Less hungry by eating more often?

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Hunger is an inevitable by-product of a serious cut. Can you reduce that hunger by eating more often, with fewer calories per serving?


This question is the subject of research by Ohkawara et al. It is a very well controlled study in which the effects of eating three times a day versus six times a day were investigated. All food was provided to the subjects. Total calories and macronutrient content (30% fat, 55% carbohydrates, 15% protein) were the same for both meal frequencies.

The subjects who participated in the 3-meal-a-day trial ate every 5 hours, and each meal contained 33.3% of their total daily calories. Those who participated in the 6-meal-a-day trial ate every 2.5 hours, and each meal contained 16.7% of the total calories.

The researchers then compared the “hunger” and “desire to eat” scores of the two situations. The result: the subjects were significantly hungrier and had a significantly greater desire to eat throughout the day when they ate 6 smaller, more frequent meals compared to 3 larger meals. Eating more often apparently makes you more hungry.

This is not entirely surprising: many find that they are constantly hungry when they try to eat small meals throughout the day. When you have fewer, larger meals, you’re less focused on nutrition, anecdotal evidence shows. Although that does not apply to everyone: it is a matter of experimenting what suits you best.


Are there other factors that determine your optimal meal frequency? Yes, one. As a bodybuilder you should eat a lot of protein and preferably spread it over 4 to 6 meals a day. In this way you ensure that muscle protein synthesis remains optimally stimulated. More about that in this article.

And what about metabolism? Many still think that eating more often results in a faster metabolism. But that’s not true: whether you eat three or six meals a day, the amount of thermogenesis (the energy your body needs to process food) is net the same, only you spread the thermogenesis more over the day the more meals you eat. consumes.


With regard to meal frequency in relation to body composition, we can state the following.

Whatever your goal is (bulkcut or recomp), make sure you always eat at least three meals a day, spread over the day and always with sufficient protein (20-40 grams per meal, in total around 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day). day – see protein requirement. Many bodybuilders take another (fourth) meal just before going to sleep, often in the form of ‘slow’ proteins.

Whether you eat more meals is mainly a matter of personal preference: one person experiences more or less hunger than the other. If you experiment with this, make sure you eat the same number of calories and maintain the same macro distribution.

Always make sure that you plan your training exactly between two (protein-rich) meals.

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