Can we build muscle mass while training at the gym and eating only three main meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner? This is probably not the most optimal choice. Better effects will be achieved by eating four or even six times a day. The truth is that very few of us actually have the time to eat so frequently. Eating three means a day may save some time and still let you gain muscle!
How many meals per day is optimal? Are there any universal recommendations in this respect?
We should always bear in mind that this is an individual matter to a large extent. The amount of calories provided with diet during the whole day is the most important issue. The breakdown of these calories for particular meals during the day is less important.
Breakfast will constitute 20-25% of daily calorie intake. It makes it the most important meal of the day.
Assuming that lunch is in this case a pre-workout meal, it should also constitutes 20-25% of daily calorie intake, similarly to breakfast.
Eating a too heavy or hard to digest meal before workout is not the best option. We don’t want our digestive system to be excessively burdened.
What should we choose for lunch?
Lean meat, such as: poultry, lean beef, fish, seafood. Add complex carbohydrates, preferably with low glycemic index.
Sweet potatoes, rice or groats will be the most appropriate.
We should also add a portion of vegetables with an additive of fat, such as olive oil or avocado.
After workout, you can drink a shake, providing easily assimilable protein - preferably whey protein and the portion of carbs - coming from fruits or carbohydrate supplements. Such a shake should provide ca. 30-40 g of protein, thanks to which the synthesis of muscle proteins will be possible.
The amount of carbohydrates will be dependent on the kind of training, the time that is left to begin a training session and our aim. The amount of carbohydrates should range from 30 to 80 g. This shake, however, is not essential, but it is a very comfortable solution.
Following the proposed scheme of energy distribution in meals - dinner will constitute the largest meal of the day. It’s going to provide 50-60% of daily need for energy.
We often hear about the anabolic window in the post-workout period. It is true that the post-workout meal is very important and worth paying attention to. The anabolic window, however, shouldn’t be a reason to eat sweets and fast foods.
Your post-workout meal should be based on the least processed food products. Lean meat, fish, potatoes, rice, groats, pasta with vegetables with an additive of healthy fats.
To sum up: eating three meals a day may be as good an idea as eating five or six meals. To a large extent, this is a matter of individual preferences and current caloricity of a diet. However, answering the question in the title of this article: yes, you may effectively build muscle mass while eating three meals a day.