Why Eating 6 Meals A Day Is Not Awesome(Plus A Really Sort Of Cool Story)

March 25, 2014 | 7 Comments

If you can’t already tell by the title, I don’t think eating 6 meals a day is awesome. But before I get into any more detail, I want to share a story.

Okay, so this is what happened to me yesterday:

– I decided to go to the Los Angeles zoo.

– While I was petting one of the baby pigs there, a group of 100 tigers broke out of their cages. 

– The tigers started to eat everyone, so I rode the baby pig to the popcorn stand and found a pair of nunchucks inside.

– I defended myself using the nunchucks while on pigback and came face to face with the king tiger.

– The king tiger said “Keith…. I’m sorry but the other tigers and I only ate 5 meals today. If we don’t eat you guys within the next hour, then we will starve, our metabolisms will slow down, and we will become fat. You are my sixth meal.” 

– So what did I do? I did what any other smart person would do if they were threatened by a hungry talking tiger who’s name isn’t Tony: I set the baby pig free and engaged in a 30 minute 1-on-1 battle with the king tiger.

– 30 minutes have passed and I have lost 4 toes and an arm. As the tiger was about to finish me off, thousands of US Special Forces soldiers parachuted into the zoo and killed all the rampaging tigers.

– Then I woke up.

Yeah… it was all a dream, boo hoo.

Remember to feed your tiger or very bad things will happen

What was the point of the story?

So why did I just write that absolutely ridiculous story? I wrote it for 2 reasons:

1) I wanted to make a point that the whole 6 meals a day thing is absolutely stupid and pointless.

2) I hope to get the story made into a big budget 7-D action movie staring Jackie Chan and directed by Steven Speiberg in the near future.

Was the story really necessary? Probably not, but it’s my fucking blog and I can write whatever I want.

Don’t listen to talking tigers

As you can see, the king tiger was quite mad at the fact that he only got 5 meals. If he didn’t get that sixth meal, then he thought he would:

1) starve

2) slow down his metabolism

3) become fat

Are any of the above points true? ABSOLUTELY NOT… unless you live in my dream world.

Now lets walk through each of these claims and see why eating 6 meals a day is a complete myth.

– Your will enter a starvation mode if you don’t eat 6 meals a day

I’m not exactly sure how a tiger’s body works, but I absolutely HATE it when humans use the term “starvation” when it comes to food and dieting. Take a look at the children in third world countries, those people are actually starving. If you say that you’re starving just because you didn’t eat for 3 hours, then you really have no idea what you’re talking about. What you’re experiencing instead are just very temporary hunger pangs. I’m guessing that most people who aren’t living in third world countries have the liberty to eat at least 1000 calories a day, and this is anything but starving.

Take a look at this study here.

According to the study, a group of people fasted for up 72 hours without any decrease in metabolic rate. This is incredible especially with all the crap out there today about needing to eat more frequently. The most interesting part about the study, is that scientists found that your metabolic rate actually increased a bit after the 36 hour mark.

I’m not really suggesting you go and fast for 72 hours, but I just wanted to make a point that abstaining from food for more than 3 hours will not put you into starvation mode.

– Your metabolism will slow down if you don’t eat 6 meals a day 

First of all, this is complete crap. Your metabolism will not slow down if you don’t eat every 2-3 hours.

Most fitness “pros” say that eating frequently will stoke your metabolic fire. This is technically true. It’s true that eating any food in ANY amount will increase your metabolism due to the thermic effect of food (TEF), which is basically the amount of calories needed in order to digest the food you just ate. However, this effect is so small that it isn’t even worth calculating (TEF is never more than 10% of the food you eat).

So let’s say you eat six 300 calorie meals per day. TEF varies depending on the composition of the food, but lets say it’s 10% for the sake of simplicity. So this means you will burn 30 calories per meal for a total TEF of 180 calories. So technically, you are increasing your metabolism every time you eat one of these meals.

However, you can also eat one 1800 calorie meal and also burn 180 calories due to TEF. This is the EXACT same amount as the other the person. So as you can see, it doesn’t matter how many meals you eat, you’re metabolism isn’t going to slow down.

 – You will become fat if you don’t eat 6 meals a day

I don’t really want to write too much on this, since this statement is more of a combination of the previous 2 points.

The mainstream media basically correlates the fact that eating any less than 6 meals a day will cause your body to store fat, and because you’re eating less meals, your metabolism will slow down and you won’t be able to burn off the food you ate.

This is bullcrap and is just more fancy marketing to get people to eat more frequently.

Protein shake
Random guy drinking his 5th meal(protein shake) in hopes of keeping his metabolism up

Why you should give intermittent fasting a try

By now, hopefully I’ve convinced you that eating 6 meals a day is complete crap. If it’s currently working for you, then fine, so be it. But otherwise, stop revolving your life around eating every 2-3 hours and join the real world.This is why I recommend you try out intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is basically a form of dieting where people purposely abstain from food for a given amount of time. Some intermittent fasting protocols call for 8 hours while other ask for a full 24 hours.

Introducing Eat Stop Eat

One of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting is called Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon(a very smart and nicely bearded fitness guru from Canada).

As I state in my review, Eat Stop Eat basically calls for one or two 24 hour fasts per week, which makes it incredibly flexible. But before you freak out, please know that you are still eating every single day.

For example, let’s say you stop eating at 6PM on Monday. You would then fast until 6PM on Tuesday and eat a normal meal. This means you are technically fasting for the entire day, but at the same time, you are still eating everyday while creating a huge caloric deficit. How cool is that?

However, you should know that the book doesn’t include any awesome stories about fantastical man-eating tigers, so that’s kind of a bummer. But either way, it’s still a great book.

Got questions about eating 6 meals a day? Can you hook me up with Steven Spielberg? Let me know in the comments below

7 Comments - Leave Your Thoughts

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  1. Just asking because I’ve heard of IF before… So, just like a normal eating plan except that once or twice a week I just don’t eat for 24hrs? I’ll eat “lunch” at work at 5pm, then I work til 10, sleep, wake up, go back to work and then resume normal eating habits (eating 3-6x per day) at 5pm of that next day?

    1. Jon,
      Yes exactly. You are fasting 24 hours 1-2 times per week, but you are still technically eating every day. The example you gave is a perfect example of IF. Just make sure you’re eating a “normal” meal and not trying to overcompensate with extra calories.

  2. This was great! Ive been trying to get my fitness trainer to eat a bowl of STFU when he ask me if i had my 4th meal yet. I am going to show him this and the countless other articles i found from doctors to make him realize that he is just another idiot feeding into the dieters mythos.

    1. Haha I remember the 4th meal. Bad memories….

      And thanks, glad you like the article. Make sure to show it to every “personal trainer” you know 🙂

  3. Does eating your whole daily protein intake in 1-2 settings affect your the way your body absorbs it though? Thats a concern I have

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