To a lot of you, this may be the million dollar question.
Depending on the diet fad of the day, you might come across a hundred different answers.
Eat 6 small meals spaced 2 hours apart. Skip breakfast. Just eat one big dinner. Fast for 18 hours. I’ve heard em’ all.
Most of the answers you find may in fact offer some benefits, but they will also come with some negatives. And sometimes we can get so inundated with information and competing theories that we get overwhelmed and forget the basics.
So let me ground your thought process for a minute and help us get back to reality by myth busting a well known, and frighteningly accepted, extreme.
The 2 Hour Rule
Despite what you may have heard, you don’t need to constantly be feeding yourself throughout the day. If you don’t eat for a couple hours, you will not go into “starvation mode” like some people will try and scare you to believe.
I mean, really think about that one. Our bodies were made to go a few weeks without food, so you are trying to tell me that you will go catabolic after a few hours? Give me a freakin’ break. Save the drama…
First off, if you ate like this, you’d be keeping your insulin levels spiked all day, taking your body out of its natural prime fat burning mode. You’d probably be feeling a little tired too…
Plus eating constantly like that could be straining your digestive system, never giving it a chance to relax because you are always making it work. Trust me, you will be spending less time on the toilet, prepping meals, and washing Tupperware if you aren’t obsessing over the famed “2 hour rule.”
Who the hell wants to live like that anyway? Sounds like torture.
So then what is the better way?
When trying to plan your meals out for the day, you need to get back to the basics. You should be counting calories and macros (protein, fat, carbs), not meals.
If you want to build muscle, you should eat as many meals as you need to fulfill a calorie surplus (taking in more calories than you need to function). For most of us, this surplus should be a few hundred calories a day in order to pack on the pounds. Couple this surplus with the correct amount of macros, and you will be well on your way to muscle gain. If you aren’t sure where your macros should be, click here and here.
So for most of us, we could accomplish this with 3 meals per day and a few snacks along the way. This will make your life a lot easier and is better for your body overall. If you need more meals to fulfill your caloric needs, so be it, but don’t feel that it is absolutely necessary, especially if you are able to get what you need with less meals and hassles…
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Underground Strength Coach