by Tony Gjokaj February 19, 2021 4 min read
One of the more common questions that gets asked in fitness is if 6 meals a day is "mandatory".
It's not necessarily mandatory, but it is commonly utilized by pro bodybuilders in their contest prep phases.
I have been eating 3-5 meals a day for years, implementing 4 strategies I typically prioritize my nutrition with.
So with that, we are going to dive into 4 Nutrient Timing (Meal Timing) strategies you should utilize in this post.
Let's dive in!
Meal frequency essentially answers the question: How many times to do you eat per day?
Contrary to popular belief, you might not necessarily need six meals a day to accomplish your fitness goals successfully. In fact, there are various of studies of meal frequency: from one meal a day up to ten or more.
From various studies, we can find that 3-6 meals per day is a pretty solid ballpark for adherence, body recomposition, and performance. In fact, when people tend to shoot for lower or higher meals than this per day, adherence or consistency tends to falter.
I can attest to this, because I’ve done OMAD (one meal a day) diets and even big bodybuilder styled diets (6-7 meals a day).
These were always stressful and miserable because I either had to make a big meal with tons of protein and sit there for over an hour, eating to discomfort… or tiny meals throughout the day.
Ultimately, you need to find the best amount of meals that work for you.
I find that 3-5 meals daily is the easiest way for me to remain consistent.
Here’s what I typically used to do:
One (7am): 2 Scoops Protein (or Fast)
Two (10am-2pm): Big Lunch Meal
Three (3-4pm): Snack or Pre-Workout
Four (6-7pm): Post-Workout or Big Dinner
Five (9pm): Protein Shake Before Bed
I primarily do Intermittent Fasting with 3 meals a day now, but this method was also effective for me.
When it comes to protein, protein timing is important with regards to protein synthesis - to an extent.
According to various studies, there’s only so much protein your body can absorb FOR muscle protein synthesis specifically. This is why I’d argue it’s essential to disperse your protein throughout the day. You don't need to divide it up evenly, just make sure that you have your bases covered. You can achieve this in 4-5 meals with protein sources.
Nutrient timing can be important when it comes to pre and post-workout nutrition. Having our higher carb meals before and after our workout help optimize energy levels. This will allow us to perform our best during intense exercise. In addition, several studies have shown protein & carbs post-workout improves muscle protein synthesis significantly more than just protein alone.
When you plan out your meals, consider taking into account of how carbohydrates make you feel.
For example, I get sleepier when I eat a large amount of carbs in one sitting. This is why I eat most of my carbohydrates in the evening, and I sleep like a baby for it.
Others may feel more energized, and eat most of their carbohydrates in the morning. If this you, I would prioritize carbs up until your pre-workout meal, and then make your post-workout carbs a little smaller.
Once you have your meal frequency down, you can explore even further by prioritizing pre and post-workout meals.
When it comes to building muscle mass, we don’t really need to be concerned as much as for these meals, as we are typically eating many calories throughout the day.
However, when it comes to fat loss dieting, I say that the pre and post-workout meals are the most important of your day. If your goal is to maintain muscle mass and performance in your workouts, I would prioritize these meals for that reason.
Various studies have shown that a pre-workout meal that contains carbohydrates and protein could potentially improve performance in your exercises.
Now this doesn’t mean you necessarily have to change anything in your diet if you use portion control methods, but if you follow Flexible Nutrition protocols, you can add more carbohydrates to your pre and post workout meals.
Personally, I prefer to have carbs and protein before my workouts because I feel like my performance is better that way.
I also utilize these meals during my MMA training sessions as well.
Snacks are especially important to me to keep my blood sugar levels up during my workouts.
One other thing you should consider is if you train more than two hours, I would personally recommend having a light snack or simple carb during your workout.
While a 30 minute anabolic window does not exist, it is important to get a post-workout meal in as soon as you can.
According to various studies, optimizing your post-workout nutrition has many benefits on improvements on recovery and more. Ultimately, a combination of good amounts of protein, simple carbohydrates, and even complex carbohydrates can improve various factors of our health - even improving muscle protein synthesis.
When it comes to dieting, we are typically hungriest after our workouts. This is why my larger meals typically occur post-workout.
To summarize, this is what we consider when it comes to nutrient timing and meal frequency:
Typically 4-6 meals daily would be a great spot to getting proper nutrients in and taking protein timing to account.
If you have any questions, comments, or insights, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time!
Tony is the Owner of Reforged. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help millions exercise their way out of depression and anxiety.
by Tony Gjokaj November 16, 2023 2 min read
I have been reading quite a few articles surrounding depression and its connection to lifestyle habits.
In recent years, scientists have started to discover that depression is not just a "chemical imbalance".
It's much more complex than that, and a lot of evidence is pointing towards positive habits helping to alleviate or reduce the risk of depression.
by Tony Gjokaj November 14, 2023 3 min read
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.
It is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep.
This can lead to decreased energy levels, mood disturbances, decreased performance at work or school, and can negatively impact overall health and quality of life.
If you're tossing and turning at night, you're not alone.
In this post, we are going to go over the 5 natural ways to ease insomnia.
Let's dive in!
by Tony Gjokaj September 18, 2023 3 min read
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar regulation, and bone health.
Despite its importance, many people do not get enough magnesium from their diets alone.
This is where supplements like magnesium glycinate can be helpful.
Magnesium glycinate is a highly bioavailable form of magnesium that is easily absorbed by the body and has several potential health benefits.
In this post, we'll explore the benefits of magnesium glycinate and why it may be a valuable addition to your overall health and wellness plan.
Let's dive in!