What is most important, completing my daily calorie intake regardless of how many meals I eat in a day, or eating 5-6 meals a day?

  • I'm sorry, but what is your calorie intake and goals exactly? Sep 21, 2015 at 2:13
  • I'm skinny and want to put on muscle. I'm using this app called MyFitnessPal. My goal is to gain 1lb/week. So, my daily calorie intake, according to the app, should be 2,240. But, I could finish this, and more, in less than 6 meals. Sep 21, 2015 at 2:17
  • You won't be able to eat too much in less number of meal so dividing is a good option.
    – Totoro
    Sep 21, 2015 at 5:13

5 Answers 5


The frequency of your intake of food doesn't matter. It's a myth suggestions that your metabolism is heightened and keeps your body "burning calories".

Actually the levels rise depending on the quantity you eat. Making the sum all the same in the end of the day.

With that said, eating your total daily calorie intake in one meal in the morning probably won't keep your hunger away for the whole day. So try to spread it out so you aren't hungry.

For some people 3 meals is fine, for others 6 smaller meals is better. But in the end, If the calories are the same the results will be the same.

  • 1
    But you need to stoke the metabolic fire, bruh! jk, +1
    – user8119
    Sep 21, 2015 at 11:56
  • @LarissaGodzilla - Good to see you back! :)
    – JohnP
    Sep 21, 2015 at 16:36
  • @JohnP: Oh look, people know who I am ;) Anyway, thanks for the welcome back.
    – user8119
    Sep 21, 2015 at 16:58
  • Thanks a lot. I've been dividing my meals to at least 5-6 times a day. I found it quite fulfilling too. Aside from actually seeing that I hit that calorie goal for the day, it also gives me the good feeling that I'm doing something right, and finally gonna build the body (and health) I've always wanted. Sep 21, 2015 at 22:12

As long as you meet your calorie goal, how you eat them doesn't matter. However, how you eat might affect how easy it is to eat a lot, apparently, some people have a hard time eating a lot ;)

  • Yeah. It takes a lot of training on your stomach to at least eat 5 meals a day. I'm pushing it to receive 6 now. Sep 21, 2015 at 22:18
  • How does this work for you compared to eating a lot in a few sittings? Like having large amounts of pizza twice?
    – Mårten
    Sep 22, 2015 at 5:47
  • Well, I try to at least reach 500-600 cal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and divide the rest over in-between snacks/meals. And, thankfully, my stomach wouldn't allow me to eat past two slices of pizza, so eating another anytime after is just overkill for me. Sep 22, 2015 at 22:02

Multiple small meals just make it easier to shove a lot of food in your face and reach your caloric goal without resorting to "nutritional garbage" (which can be delicious but void of interesting macro or micronutrients and full of calories). By having 6 or 7 small meals, you can keep them "healthy" and make the most of it. But that's it, if you can reach your macros in 3 meals all the better for you.

  • Ha. I actually did this last night. I had about hit my calorie intake when I had an afternoon meal, which was my 4th meal, and then I resorted to just eating 2 slices of pizza with milk for dinner instead. Sep 21, 2015 at 22:16

Chris Aceto (nutritionist, he was working with Jay Cutler back then) advices to eat 6 meals per day with a lot of carb with the breakfast and after the workout. For the 4 other meals keep the carb "low". Keep your protein intake the same for each meal.

I don't have his book under my hand but i give your its name : http://www.amazon.com/Championship-Bodybuilding-Chris-Acetos-Instruction/dp/0966916808

  • -1, as it stands, this is an appeal to authority and anecdotal evidence at best.
    – user8119
    Sep 21, 2015 at 13:22
  • @LarissaGodzilla : your book says : get your 3000 kcal no matter what. Chris Aceto says : better get a carb load at the breakfast and after your workout and low carb during the day. Who's wrong ? who's right ? ;) PS : You can't avoid a tips coming from someone who did the diet to one of the best bodybuilder.
    – e1che
    Sep 21, 2015 at 14:02
  • 1
    I'm not arguing the point. It worked for Cutler and many others, I don't doubt that. But right now, we'll just have to take your/Aceto's/Cutler's word for it with no chance to check (without buying the book) and that's just not a good answer, in my opinion.
    – user8119
    Sep 21, 2015 at 16:56
  • @LarissaGodzilla If you check the previous response, you'll see that no one drop an interesting link to their "eating 3+ meals is a myth". I advice the book because that's something solid, that you can base your diet on and NOT "oh.. maybe try this or that" or even "3+ is a myth"
    – e1che
    Sep 22, 2015 at 15:01

From what I can gather about meal frequency is that:

  • Over 3 meals a day, the benefit diminishes greatly
  • Below 3 meals a day, and more meals benefit much more

If you can easily eat the amount of healthy food to hit your calorie goals while also hitting your macronutrient goals in 3 meals, use 3 meals.

I know of a couple people who feel physically ill if they try to eat more than a certain amount at a time. For them, higher meal frequency worked better because they were able to get the calories they needed from good food.

Some people find that higher meal frequency interferes too much with their life and struggle to get all the meals in. For those people, fewer meals work better.

Bottom line:

Go with at least 3 meals, and get your food from good sources 90% of the time. (That can translate to 3 cheat days a month, or however you want to divide it up). Choose a meal frequency that will work for you and your lifestyle, because sticking with your plan is more important than which of several good plans you choose.

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