How Often Should I Eat Each Day?

The short answer is “It doesn’t matter.” You will probably hear me say this an obnoxious amount of times, but the truth is that what’s important is how many calories you consume over the course of the day, not when you consume them. Do you want to lose body-fat? Then you need to burn more calories than you consume. Do you want to build muscle? Well, then you need to eat more calories than you expend, and get plenty of protein.

That being said, there are two things that are good ideas to do if you’re trying to maximize your results. Again, these are by no means necessary, but they can help. Let’s break them down.

Eat 20-30 grams of protein shortly after you wake up. This is good for a couple of reasons. First, protein is satiating, and if you have a good portion of it first thing, then you punch hunger in the face and increase your chances of keeping it down for the day. Secondly, your body has probably run out of protein from the day before by the time you wake up, so recovery from your workouts is on hold. Giving it this boost of protein in the morning can help. Having some before bed doesn’t hurt either.

Have some protein and carbs within the hour both before and after your workouts. The “before” only applies if it’s been several hours since your last meal. Protein keeps your body in muscle-building mode (which, yes, is good even if you’re trying to shed fat), and carbs give you extra energy to push harder in the gym and reduce muscle breakdown after. It’s a good idea to keep the protein and carbs coming every few hours.

Want to skip breakfast? Do it. Want to eat at night? Fine. Focus on the calories, try these tips, and don’t stress over the fitness buff in your life who deals in absolutes.

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