by Andrew Frisella February 23, 2017 3 min read
If your goal is to gain muscle, eating meals every 2-3 hours while you are awake is extremely critical to your muscle gaining efforts. If you don’t do it, you are missing out on a TON of potential growth opportunity. You might have even heard that before … but do you know why it is important? And are you doing it?!
Whatmakes eating small meals every 2-3 hours while you are awake critically important to your specific goal is the idea of stimulating muscle protein synthesis consistently throughout the day.
When you properly stimulate muscle protein synthesis you are creating an anabolic environment where your body is repairing and building muscle. The way you properly stimulate muscle protein synthesis is by giving your body a dose/meal of protein (a minimum of 25g will do the trick). Roughly 2-3 hours after this meal/dose of protein your body exits that anabolic state and switches over to a catabolic state of muscle protein breakdown (not good). This means that instead of repairing the muscle and growing, it starts to break your muscle down which is obviously extremely counterproductive to what your specific goals are.
No matter how many calories you eat at a meal, anytime you go longer than 2-3 hours without a dose/meal of at least 25g of protein you are going to put your body in a catabolic state … which is what you have to avoid if you are ever going to gain a significant amount of muscle. I’m sure you can start to see by now why eating three large meals a day isn’t going to be very conducive to your goals in terms of gaining muscle.
Another benefit to taking in smaller more frequent doses/meals of protein is that over the course of the day your body will assimilate much more protein and macronutrients than it would if you tried to cram it all down in 3 big meals. Your body simply cannot effectively absorb and utilize all the calories you give it when you try and jam down monster-size meals like that. It will use what it can and the rest will either be turned into fat or dumped in the toilet (pun intended). The trick is getting your body in a situation where it can assimilate as much quality macronutrients as it can with the minimal amount of waste. The only way to do this is through smaller, more frequent meals that still keep you in a calorie surplus where you are eating more calories than you are burning.
Obviously, there are a lot of things that go into gaining muscle other than meal frequency and muscle protein synthesis, like INTENSE training, adequate rest, proper post-workout recovery, total calories consumed, proper macronutrient (protein, carbs & fats) breakdown and water consumption but the idea of stimulating muscle protein synthesis is what directly grows new muscle … which is what you care about. This is why it should be your goal to make sure you are getting a minimum of 25g of protein through meals or supplements every 2-3 hours while you’re awake IF you want to grow as much muscle as your body will be physically capable of.
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