The short answer in my humble opinion is “Yes!”
The main reasons are:
1- Preventing hunger when in a calorie deficit
At some stage in our life we’ve all been in a position where we have skipped a meal or two, whether we were just out an about or working through lunch, we’ve all done it and we all know the feeling. The feeling of lightheadedness, hunger and an uncontrollable craving for carbs/sugar. We have all certainly been there, at this stage when Becky the office moral (that one personal who always gives out treats) asks you if you want a slice of her birthday cake, you say “hell fucking yes!” whilst taking the biggest piece possible….Becky should count herself lucky that we didn’t eat her as well.
When people go a longer time without eating their blood glucose levels drop, this means all their body now wants is sugar, we then need some serious will power to opt for a healthier option, especially if that healthy option is not the quickest or most convenient.
2- Optimising protein synthesis
This is a huge topic of discussion within the fitness industry, but I’ll try not to bore you with the science or politics. We know that our bodies are limited in how much protein they can utilise to optimise muscle protein synthesis in one meal, people say around 20 to 40 grams or protein every 2-3 hours, anything more and it’s wasted, anything less and we’ll lose all our gains, all our strength and literally be crushed by the power of the earth’s gravity. Okay, maybe an exaggeration, in fact the amount you can actually absorb really does depend on so many factors like weight, age, gender, activity level, muscle mass, goals etc. Furthermore, if you were a smaller person and you had over 40 grams of protein for example, you would not waste that extra protein as you’re body would convert it into glucose to be used as energy, it’s called gluconeogenesis, therefore it’s not wasted, but it might not necessarily be used to help build muscle mass tissue.
There is plenty of research that suggests spreading your protein intake throughout the day is likely the most optimal approach and other research to suggest it’s not as important as we’ve been lead to believe. Ultimately, we are still in the position where spreading your protein out through more meals is the preferred and most optimal approach when practical.
How many meals per day I hear you ask?
Well this is where we don’t need to take things to the extreme, I usually recommend between 3-6 meals per day, a protein rich snack can count as a meal. So, if you have breakfast, lunch and dinner with two relatively high protein snacks, this is likely an ideal approach.
Let’s take me for example, I’ll have breakfast around 6am (post workout).
Snack around 9am
Lunch around 12.30pm
Snack around 3pm
In my opinion, this is a very normal and realistic approach for a lot of people. I’ll have protein at each one of these meal timings (or at least try to) and you can see there’s no more than 4 hours between each meal, therefore there is a pretty steady amount of protein coming in throughout the day without having to use an excessive amount of Tupperware or having to set your alarm every 3 hours….I’m hoping I’m not the only one who used to do that.