Are you one of those people who eat many small meals during the day in order to build muscle? Are you afraid that if you stop eating every 3 hours you will lose muscle?
Today I will put an end to that stupid fear. Let us begin!
Table of Contents
- 1 My struggle with eating 7-8 meals per day
- 2 The social mark of eating all day
- 3 Trying different diets
- 4 The solution
- 5 Step 1: Fix your gut
- 6 Step 2: Introduce 1 or 2 days of Intermittent fasting per week
- 7 Step 3: Start slowly
- 8 Step 4: Watch the timing of your meals
- 9 Step 5: Counting portions, calories and the macronutrients ratio
- 10 Step 6: Do not give in to your hunger
- 11 Step 7: Ignore stupid protein myths
- 12 Step 8: Be consistent
- 13 Step 9: Use digestive enzymes!
- 14 Step 10: Believe you can do it
My struggle with eating 7-8 meals per day
For many years, I was a slave to the traditional bodybuilding style of ‘you have to eat every 2-3 hours’. While I always had results using this diet (depending on my training regimen and targets), I always felt chained to my food schedule. Everywhere I went I would carry food with me or make sure that I could have access to food in the area I would be in if my meal time was coming up.
Then I would run into another problem: If I did not have access to some decent food, I would turn to protein snacks (protein bars etc) or I would have to buy some sort of milk, be it skimmed, full fat or chocolate milk even though I have completely removed milk from my diet.
Things would get even more complicated when I was on a caloric restricted diet. None of the foods sources I had access to while I was outside were fit for a diet with the exception of nuts which had to be in a limited quantity.
And then there is the social mark. People did not understand how I could eat every 2-3 hours and how I was always hungry. They found it especially funny when I opened my bag to reach for a protein shake or a big sandwich. I remember when I was in college, I used to carry 2-3 sandwiches and 2 lucozade (high carb drink) bottles every day. They would call me ‘the lucozade man’.
During my college days I was quite happy with my physique. I was doing yoga in the morning and martial arts or calisthenics or weights in the afternoon and I was in great shape and very ripped. However, I was unhappy about having to worry about food every once in a while. I was unable to fully enjoy life.
Trying different diets
Over the last 2 decades, I tried different approaches. I remember trying the warrior diet at around 2003. It was a disaster. I felt so bad and I was losing fat at a ridiculous rate along with muscle mass. I felt that switching to a nutrition schedule that involved less than 5 meals a day was impossible.
Note: There were pieces missing to the warrior diet that I later discovered. Remember that any diet you follow needs to be customized to tailor to your needs and goals. The warrior diet is a great diet but also follows the same rule.
10 years and many books, diet trials and supplements later, I finally found the way.
At first I felt reluctant but then I started doing Intermittent fasting and was excited at the freedom it offered on the days I fasted. I simply did not have to care about food.
I must admit that my energy levels in my first fasting days were not optimal and that the cravings were crazy. This is normal as it is the first stage and your body is asking for what it is used to. Once you are past that stage, it gets easier. Much easier.
I will not go into detail as to what I did. I had to face my own obstacles and demons and you will face yours. What I will give you is the tools that I used to make this transition work. Here goes:
Step 1: Fix your gut
If your gut health is messed up, you will not be able to pull this off.
Perhaps the reason that you are hungry every 2-3 hours is that you are not absorbing all the energy from the foods you eat. This is why it is important to fix your gut first.
- If your gut is inflamed, use 5-10 gr of glutamine on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
- You can also use ginger or turmeric along with your meals to bring the inflammation down.
- Also the use of probiotics and prebiotics is a must as it will feed the healthy bacteria in your gut and aid your digestion and immune system.
Step 2: Introduce 1 or 2 days of Intermittent fasting per week
- Start with 1 day of Intermittent fasting on your weekends when you are not working.
- Eat your last meal on Friday at around 7pm and go to bed relatively early (at around 10). The longer you stay up, the hungrier you will get.
- Going to bed on a relatively empty stomach will allow more Growth Hormone release during your sleep which will help your body recuperate faster.
Fasting will also give your inner organs and your endocrine system a break so that it can recuperate and repair itself.
Step 3: Start slowly
- Move from eating 6-7 meals down to 5-6 meals per day during your first week. See how your body responds.
- If you still feel hungry after week 1, continue for 1 extra week like that.
- Once you feel OK (same levels of energy etc), it is time to continue with week 2, switching from 5-6 meals down to 4-5.
Step 4: Watch the timing of your meals
You might have to combine certain meals to make it work.
- Start with the last 2 meals of the day.
- If you have 1 shake after your workout at 5 o clock and then eat at 7-8 o clock, then merge them into one by doing this: eat your meal at 6-7 o clock and at the end of your meal, drink your shake.
Step 5: Counting portions, calories and the macronutrients ratio
Some people might have a problem with calories and food quantities when making the switch. I know by instinct how much food I am taking in (I was counting macros and calories for more than a decade but not any more) so this was not a problem for me.
What you will need to do, is still pay attention to your macronutrients ratio. The idea is to keep it the same as when you were doing 6-7 meals per day. Nothing changes here and I do not suggest you change anything in regards to your macros or portions because you might get different results. Leave them as they are for now.
Step 6: Do not give in to your hunger
Yes, you will get hungry initially, and yes you will hate me for doing this but you will have to soldier through.
Do you remember how you got into the 6-7 meal per day thing in the first place? You had to force feed yourself every 2-3 hours. Now we are doing the reverse thing.
Step 7: Ignore stupid protein myths
I guess you are familiar with the ‘eat protein every 3 hours or you will lose hard earned muscle’ myth.
Was it perhaps marketed by a protein supplement company? For centuries, warriors would starve during the day, fight, kill, pillage and eat once they had time to take a breath. And the funny thing was that these people were mountains of muscle. I don’t think they had breaks during epic battles for a protein bar or a shake.
Just ignore this myth. There is no study that actually proves something like that.
Step 8: Be consistent
- Don’t have 2 meals on Monday and then have 6 meals on Tuesday and/or Wednesday. This will confuse your body even more. Keep it consistent.
- Go one full week with 3-4 meals per day until you hit the target.
Step 9: Use digestive enzymes!
- Digestive enzymes played an important role for my switch to the 3 meals per day and my release from the 6 meal nightmare. When I started using them, I felt less hungry after 3-4 hours and could go on for 5 or more if I had to, without sacrificing energy levels.
- If you have a lot of protein in your diet, I recommend Betaine HCL with your meals. Start with 250mg for each meal and do not exceed 1200mg per day. You might want to check with your doctor if you have ulcers or something similar as this is very strong.
- There are also other digestive enzymes that can help as different enzymes help break down different macros and foods. I would recommend going with a supplement that contains enzymes that breakdown all 3: fat,protein and carbs.
Step 10: Believe you can do it
- If you don’t, then it will not happen.
- If you believe in your ability to make this switch, you will make it. It’s as simple as that!
There you have it. Use this method to release yourself from the nightmare of eating every 2-3 hours without feeling hungry. You will have less worries, more energy, more health, more freedom and more extra time to spend on different things rather than eating or thinking about where and what to eat.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Putting together this article took a bit of time but it will only take you a second to click on the Share buttons below and show your support to this blog.
Also if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Live your life, strong, healthy and free!
by Nick Sigma
C.W.C, E.H, YRT-200