ONE or TWO meals a day is a disaster. If you haven't been eating at least three times a day, you are causing serious damage to your metabolism. If you want to get your metabolism back up to speed, read the rest of this chapter very carefully and follow the instructions to the letter.
Eat THREE meals a day, properly balanced with the right nutritious foods, and work out hard and you'll get some results. But...you'll get about half the results you'd get from six meals a day and it will take you twice as long to get there. If you have less than
"elite" genetics or a naturally slow metabolism, you may have serious difficulty on only three meals. And if you miss even a single meal, then you're causing metabolic damage.
If you eat FOUR meals a day, making intelligent food choices and combining your foods in the ideal ratios, you'll see substantial results. But you'll only get about sixty or seventy percent of the results you'd get from six meals a day and it will take you longer to get there, if you do get there.
FIVE meals a day? Now we're getting somewhere. Five meals a day will give you good results on a weekly basis. If you're a large, active male, you could still do better by adding a sixth meal.
SIX small meals a day is the answer! Two simple facts of physiology will explain why: (1) It takes about three hours to digest each meal, and (2) protein (amino acids) lasts about three hours in the bloodstream. If you sleep eight hours per night, that leaves 16 waking hours in the day. Six meals over 16 hours equals one meal every 2.7 hours. If your goal is five meals, then your target is one meal every 3.2 hours. Average it up for simplicity, and that's where the guideline of one meal every three hours comes from. Five meals a day seems to be the optimal number for women and six meals is ideal for men. The difference is because men require on average, about 600-900 calories per day more than women.
So, if five or six meals a day is good, then seven or eight or even ten must be even better, right? Well, not exactly. You could experiment with one extra meal and it might produce slightly better results. However, it takes a minimum of two to two and a half hours to digest a meal, so it doesn't make any sense to eat more than six or seven times per day. If you did, you would only be piling food on top of undigested food. How much you eat isn't as important as how much you fully digest and assimilate. Unless each of your meals was tiny, you also might be eating too many calories for the day.
Extremists that they are, some bodybuilders figure that if five or six meals a day is good, then seven or eight is even better. Heck, some of them even set their alarms and get up in the middle of the night to eat! As in most areas of life, when anything is taken to the extreme, there's always a point of diminishing returns or even damage.
If your goal is to gain muscle and you're that die-hard (dare I say crazy?), then knock yourself out. A light protein meal in the middle of the night might fend off some of the muscle loss that occurs naturally overnight as you sleep. But there's a trade off -uninterrupted sleep is important too. If your number one priority is fat loss, you're better off not eating late in the evening at all, let alone in the middle of the night. Get your zzz's - you're gonna need them with the training program I have in store for you.
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Metabolism. There isn’t perhaps a more frequently used word in the weight loss (and weight gain) vocabulary than this. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to overhear people talking about their struggles or triumphs over the holiday bulge or love handles in terms of whether their metabolism is working, or not.