Meal Timing Matters

It's a popular practice with bodybuilders and other strength athletes to consume 5 to 7 smaller meals each day instead of your traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner. They do this to keep their metabolism running strong while fueling muscles with a continuous supply of essential amino acids to promote growth and recovery. Previous studies have shown that eating many smaller meals throughout the day can also assist with weight loss and cholesterol maintenance.

A study to be published in the April edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports those findings. Scientists had a group of male and female volunteers commit to eating one large meal each day while a similar group sat down to the typical 3 squares. After several 8-week trials, single meal eaters realized slight decreases in weight and body fat. But this negligible improvement came at the cost of higher blood pressure and 'bad' LDL cholesterol. They also had elevated levels of blood sugar throughout the day.

The Bigger Picture: So if eating three meals a day is better than stuffing yourself at one feeding, then it's reasonable to assume that consuming the same amount of calories and nutrients over the course of even more meals should provide greater benefits. If you're not already eating this way, try spreading your calories and nutrients out into 5 to 7 smaller meals approximately 2 or 3 hours apart. The result? A more efficient metabolism, more stable blood sugar levels, and generally improved blood lipid levels.
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