What is the best 3 meal diet

Do you have to eat 6 meals a day to look good naked?

“How many meals a day are optimal for weight loss? Do I have to eat 6 meals a day to build muscle? Does it increase the metabolism if I eat 6 times a day? "

Do you ask yourself that too? Then you are in good company. I hear them regularly.

Many are rightly confused.

Lifestyle magazines, diet books and fitness experts promote 3, 5 or even 10 meals a day as the “most effective fat loss method”.

What's right now?

I like simple solutions. Having to eat 6 times a day and more often sounds pretty complicated to me. If you want to make this effort, you should at least be clear about whether it will bring anything at all.

That's the point. I grapple with the question from different angles:

  • Pure confusion: Why are there so many contradicting statements?
  • Research facts: What do the studies say about meal frequency and weight gain or weight loss?
  • Clear recommendation: How many meals a day you should eat in order to optimally achieve your goal.

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Put to the test: 4 myths about meal frequency

Four common theses on the question "how many meals should you eat a day":

  1. Thesis: Frequent eating boosts the metabolism.
  2. Thesis: Eating infrequently makes the metabolism fall asleep.
  3. Thesis: To build muscle, you have to eat something every 2-3 hours.
  4. Hypothesis: Those who eat more often have less appetite and lose weight more quickly.

Here is an overview of various fitness diets that rely on different meal frequencies. Many of these nutritional models contradict the theses mentioned:

  • 0-1 meal per day: The Warrior Diet, Eat-Stop-Eat, The Fighter Diet, etc. ...
  • 2-3 meals a day (with a fasting phase): Feast Your Fat Away, Renegade Diet, etc. ...
  • 3 meals per day (without fasting): Slow Carb Diet, Strunz Diet, Vegan for Fit, etc. ...
  • 4-6 meals a day: metabolic diet, anabolic diet, fit-for-fun diet, ...
  • No specifications: LOGI method, paleo principle, ...

Is it just a “matter of taste” how often we should eat - or are there scientifically based arguments in favor of one or the other option?

Let them go through the four theses one at a time.

Do 6 meals a day boost your metabolism?

Thesis No. 1:

"Eating frequently boosts your metabolism and helps you lose weight."

That's what science says

Two meta-studies deal with this question in detail. Both come to the conclusion that so far no connection between the meal frequency and an increased metabolic rate has been established.

On the one hand, subjects were examined who ate many smaller snacks throughout the day, while the other group ate fewer and larger meals. The bottom line was that there was no discernible difference in metabolic rate.12 A number of other studies came to the same conclusion.3456

The researchers suspect that the composition of the meals itself has a major influence, but not their frequency.

Conclusion: not true.

More meals a day will not help you lose weight - at least as far as your metabolism is concerned.

Does your metabolism go to sleep while fasting?

Thesis No. 2:

"If you don't eat anything for a long time, your metabolism falls asleep."

This thesis is the downside of thesis 1. If many meals kept the “metabolic furnace” burning, fasting should slow it down - right?

This should surprise you ...

That's what science says

The opposite is the case - at least for shorter periods of fasting. The metabolic rate increases after a fast of 36 hours and remains at this level even after 72 hours

Although there is no energy supply, your body produces more heat. This effect may also be related to increased adrenaline levels, which was measured in a study after 48 hours of fasting. 78

It is fascinating what experiments the scientists carried out. Test subjects alternately had to eat nothing for one day and twice as much the following day - for 22 days. In total, they covered their energy needs. This on-off fasting did not affect your metabolism. 9

Two other studies compared Muslims who fasted and did not fast during Ramadan. Here, too, the researchers were unable to determine any significant influence on human metabolism.1011

Conclusion: not true.

Obviously, shorter periods of fasting do not affect your metabolism. Intermittent fasting can work for those who tend to be a whole-or-not-at-all when it comes to eating, to create an energy deficit and lower their body fat percentage.

How many meals a day are optimal for building muscle?

Thesis No. 3:

"To build muscle, you need to eat something every 2-3 hours."

That's what science says

The study situation on the subject of meal frequency and muscle building is relatively thin. But here, too, studies suggest that it essentially depends onWhat and how much You eat and not how often.12

However, those who eat very often may be better protected against muscle breakdown. One study looked at two groups who ate 3 versus 14 meals a day - a very extreme case. Although the energy intake and metabolism of both groups remained the same, protein oxidation (a sign of the “wear and tear” of protein structures in the body) was 17% higher in the 3-meal group.13

Conclusion: not true.

If you want to build muscle, you should first and foremost pay attention to enoughEat protein, carbohydrates, and fats. How often you sit at the table can be designed according to your taste.

I find the last study on muscle loss prevention interesting, but uncritical. Unless you're training for a heavyweight bodybuilding contest and really want to pull out all the stops, I think the effort of eating 14 times a day is excessive.

However, some people may find it difficult to meet their energy needs with just 1-2 meals. If you want to build muscle and have problems eating enough anyway, you will get along better with more frequent meals per day (e.g. so-called "hard gainers").

How often should you eat to optimize your appetite and insulin levels?

Thesis No. 4:

"Those who eat more often have less appetite and lose weight faster."

That's what science says

Two studies suggest that fewer meals lead to less appetite and lower insulin levels than more meals. One study compared 3 versus 14 and in another study 2 versus 12 meals per day. 1314

Conclusion: not true.

If your aim is to lose fat, you may get better results with fewer meals. However, I would not drive myself crazy with these study results. Many of my coaching clients were able to lose fat quickly and successfully with 6 meals a day without hunger being an issue for them.


1, 3, 5, 6 or more meals a day? The study situation refutes the common nutritional myths about meal frequency.

In a nutshell: It doesn't matter how often you eat. Your metabolism affects the frequency of meals per se obviously not. It doesn't matter whether you want to lose fat or build muscle.

You can find out what you are doing feel most comfortable. For me it's currently 2-3 larger meals a day. In the circle of customers, friends and acquaintances, I could name many people who eat more often and get along with it just as well.

If your calorie needs are very high, it could be difficult to meet them with just a few meals a day.

Although some studies suggest that eating fewer and larger meals for the same amount of calories leads to less appetite and less overall insulin secretion, I wouldn't dwell on this discovery. My personal experience is that many people can achieve very good - and, depending on individual preferences, often better - results with smaller meals more frequently during the day.

Question: How many meals do you eat a day? Which model do you feel most comfortable with? Write a comment.

Photos: lazlo-photo, blair_25, Brett Jordan (CC BY 2.0).

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  2. Palmer MA, Capra S, Baines SK. Association between eating frequency, weight, and health. Nutr Rev. 2009. [↩]
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  10. Zerguini Y, et al. Influence of Ramadan fasting on physiological and performance variables in football players: summary of the F-MARC 2006 Ramadan fasting study. J Sports Sci. 2008. [↩]
  11. Chennaoui M, et al. Effects of Ramadan fasting on physical performance and metabolic, hormonal, and inflammatory parameters in middle-distance runners. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009. [↩]
  12. Pearcey SM, de Castro JM. Food intake and meal patterns of weight-stable and weight-gaining persons. At J Clin Nutr. 2002. [↩]
  13. Munsters MJ, Saris WH. Effects of meal frequency on metabolic profiles and substrate partitioning in lean healthy males. PLoS One. 2012 [↩] [↩]
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Category: Losing weight, nutrition, fitness with M.A.R.K. Tags: fat loss, fat metabolism, fat burning, hormones, insulin, body fat, metabolism