The effect of the number of meals on metabolism

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The effect of the number of meals on metabolism
The effect of the number of meals on metabolism

Often novice athletes pay little attention to the nutrition program, in particular the number of meals. Find out why the number of meals affects muscle growth? To begin with, in the course of numerous studies, the effect of meal frequency on metabolism has not been proven. But it was found that when a small amount of protein compounds is consumed with frequent meals, protein synthesis is accelerated. If you want to know exactly how many meals you need to do in bodybuilding - 3 or 6, then it is best to experiment and determine this amount in relation to your body.

Today on the net you can find a lot of information that with frequent consumption of food in small portions, the metabolism increases sharply. Today we will try to answer this question by referring to the results of scientific research.

Effects of meal frequency on metabolism

Sportswoman eating
Sportswoman eating

All people who claim that frequent meals stimulate metabolism are based on the theory that the body wants to maintain a high level of energy sources. This is necessary for survival during prolonged fasting. If you do not eat for several hours, the body goes into energy saving mode, which in turn slows down all metabolic processes.

Of course, these arguments seem to be quite pertinent, but there is no scientific evidence for this theory yet. In one experiment with dogs that were fed four times a day, the thermogenic effect was almost doubled in comparison with a one-time meal. The calorie content of the daily diet remained unchanged. Then, similar studies were carried out with the participation of people who confirmed the initial results.

At the same time, there is no evidence that the amount of food intake affects energy expenditure. Simply put, metabolism does not depend on this factor. With regard to the thermogenic effect, which we just mentioned, it is often associated with the thermogenic effect of food.

Simply put, this effect is nothing more than the expenditure of energy for the process of digesting food, which in some amount is simply dissipated in the form of heat energy. The body requires a different amount of energy to process each nutrient. For example, less energy is required to digest fats.

Mixed foods consume approximately 10 percent of the total calories for processing. Let's use numbers for clarity. Let's say the calorie content of the daily diet is 3 thousand calories. If you eat three times, then you have to consume 100 calories at a time, and 100 of them will be spent on digestion, which will give 300 in total. With six meals you will consume 600 calories, and 60 of them are spent on processing, which as a result we gives the same 300 calories. In other words, it is quite obvious that from the point of energy expenditure, the number of meals is not important.

Effects of hunger and satiety on metabolism

Athlete eats after training
Athlete eats after training

People who eat more often believe that this allows them to control their hunger. Everyone understands that a certain energy balance is required to control body weight. Simply put, in order to lose weight, you should consume less calories than they are spent and vice versa. It is believed that if there are long pauses between meals, hypoglycemia may develop, which means a decrease in sugar levels. When the body does not receive food for a certain time, the hypothalamus receives a signal that the energy level is low, which leads to a feeling of hunger. After that, most often a person consumes more food than the body needs.

This, in turn, leads to a sharp increase in insulin secretion, and there is close to obesity. But scientists have conducted studies that have not proven this fact. At the same time, in the course of some experiments, it was found that people felt less hungry with extended meals, at the same time, some of the subjects did not notice any differences in this.

There is also scientific evidence that it is 3 meals a day that more effectively eliminates hunger. Even more confusing is the study of the effect of meal frequency on the synthesis of hormones that affect hunger. Most likely, the individual indicators of a person are of greater importance here.

Effect of food insulin concentration on metabolism

Scheme of the influence of insulin on processes in the human body
Scheme of the influence of insulin on processes in the human body

Another theory put forward by fans of frequent meals is the positive effect on insulin concentration. They argue that when a large amount of food is consumed at one time, insulin levels rise sharply in the body. Knowing the properties and role of this hormone, it can be assumed that in this case the body will begin to accumulate fats. However, this cannot be asserted one hundred percent.

Many results from various studies suggest that frequent food intake improves glucose homeostasis. If you do not go into the intricacies of this process, then this helps to reduce the sharpness and speed of increase in insulin concentration. It is necessary to draw the correct conclusions from these results, but if we talk about the fight against excess weight, then this is very problematic.

Several studies have shown that with frequent food intake, the release of insulin proceeds more smoothly, but does not affect the rate of oxidative reactions of fats at all. Note that the study in question was conducted under tight control. All subjects ate the same food and had no health problems, while being in excellent physical shape. This gives reason not to doubt the results of the experiment.

Thus, we can say that obesity is caused to a greater extent by excess calories, and not insulin. If we summarize all of the above and answer the main question of the article - how many meals should be taken in bodybuilding - 3 or 6, then we will not get an unambiguous result. You should do the experiment yourself and find out which eating pattern works best for your body.

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