Athletes are in a very special situation. Many have very high energy needs due to their energy expenditure in training. They have to fuel their training, especially intense and long workouts. It’s not easy to cover energy needs and some athletes struggle with that. Sometimes due to lack of knowledge, sometimes because they underestimate their needs and sometimes because they choose the wrong foods. In any case it is important to eat regular, frequent meals. This helps to maximise performance in training and avoids long periods of low energy status and negative energy availability.
Meal frequency in sports
When you look at the high energy demands in sports, it’s almost impossible to cover the needs with three or four meals. This would require really big meals and substrate availability wouldn’t be optimal for training performance nor for training adaptation. When you ant to make the best of your day, it’s important to get the timing right and have even up to six meals and snacks a day, sometimes more than that.Indeed, athletes have to eat a lot and more often than non-exercisers. Ultimately, this makes it easier to control your body weight and favors a better body composition. Non an unimportant aspect in many sports.
It’s a widespread myth that breakfast makes you fat when you have never been a breakfast eater. There is no evidence to support this. It’s true that you consume more calories by including breakfast but, interestingly, people also burn more calories during the day than non-breakfast eaters. So breakfast doesn’t make you fat. Of course, it depends on the foods you choose for breakfast, too. Look for high quality foods.
- Raynor et al (2016) Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Interventions for the Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.10.031
- Kerksick et al (2011) International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4
- Schoenfeld et al (2015) Effects of meal frequency on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuu017