This archived forum used to be called 'Peatarian' (in reference to Ray Peat).

Large, infrequent meals better than small frequent ones?

I'm going to posit 4 points for why I believe this to be true.

1) Anecdotally, I was always more productive, energetic, and lively when meals were eaten infrequently. This may be reverse causation, or it may not. Perhaps frequent feeding promoted stress, or the stress made me focus on eating all the time.

2) Starvation triples lactase activity in rats:


"This finding suggests that patients with SIBO, who do not recover after a standard course of antibiotics, or botanical antimicrobial protocol (which we prefer), may benefit from the addition of a prokinetic agent, which increases the muscular contractions of the small bowel."

Hunger makes your stomach growl. Stomach growling is simply peristaltic motion of the intestines.

4) It intuitively makes sense that periods of starvation will starve bacteria as well. Eating a steady amount of small meals will provide a constant line of nourishment to bacteria.

Bonus) It's generally agreed upon here that people need variety, boredom is a stressor, etc. This fits in line with that.

asked Feb 17, 2015 by lvysaur

9 Answers

It think it is completely individual and must depend on one's own metabolic rate.

For example, I am someone who can't go comfortably for more than three hours of activity without some high energy food (fructose, casein or MCT). But I think that may result from a high metabolic rate, and perhaps minimal bodyfat.

If you are not active, have extra bodyfat and don't metabolize very much, I would guess you could comfortably fast longer, though you may feel stress in the form of ammonia and cortisol, if fasting goes on too long.

I think Peat has wondered whether the euphoria that is reported from prolonged fasting comes from diminished endotoxins when you just don't eat at all.

answered Feb 18, 2015 by visionofstrength

person-specific. someone who is physically damaged or in the process of healing likely needs more frequent feedings until the body can comfortably reserve energy. people may even have periods where their body needs to switch up their feeding times.

answered Feb 18, 2015 by Nicholas
answered Feb 17, 2015 by Bukowski

I remember Peat making reference to eating frequently, but I think it was just once. I don't think he thinks it's a major issue.

Personally, it also just feels good to feel hungry sometimes.

I probably have SIBO, but getting hungry is NOT OK for me. It hurts, makes me nauseous, and hurts my right side.

When I eat large meals I feel "heavier" and tired.
For me it's better when I eat a little bigger 3 main meals and a few snacks.

I was reading a study, when eating frequently it's better when you have SIBO and bacteria.

answered Feb 18, 2015 by Illusion
edited Feb 18, 2015 by Illusion

In peasant cultures around the world from 150 years ago, two light meals and one main meal seem almost universal. Usually the main meal is late afternoon. And they didn't eat when the sun was down, because you can't easily cook in the dark.

Sure, you can argue the pattern isn't ideal and circumstances forced them to eat like that. Nonetheless it seemed to work OK for a few thousand years.

answered Feb 18, 2015 by 4a552f55cbb9

Yes, but the lifestyle was also different to compare with today.

For example Japanese eat frequently and they are slim.

Japanese eat normal meals just like westerners...

I think you need to mention that eating frequency is very related to the food itself. You eat something that's not a good fuel? You'll get hungry quickly. I think it's a good signal about whether you're doing something healthy or not. Intuitively I think a sudden, surprising or frequent hunger means stress, you're not providing something essential. If I eat and I feel good, with hunger only gradually increasing over time as one should expect, then that's good.

That's different than the total number of calorie you eat in a day. The same number of calories could be eaten is smaller, very frequent meals, or in fewer meals in day.

answered Feb 18, 2015 by boxjack

The Warrior Diet was a big step in destroying my thyroid.

answered Feb 19, 2015 by Shredder
edited Feb 19, 2015 by Shredder

It's very simple. Eat until you don't want to eat anymore. Repeat the process. The size of the meal doesn't matter. Just eat until you are satisfied. Eat until you don't want to put another bite into your mouth. That could be a "big" or "small" meal. When craving sweet, ripe fruit is the best choice. When not craving sweet, you will consume something that is salty. All foods besides fruit require salt/condiments. Bacon would not taste as good as it does if it was not cured and salted before you buy it.

answered Feb 21, 2015 by Westside PUFAs

I frequently eat steak without salt or condiments.

I reject this line of thinking. People in America are fat because they eat 400 more calories per day than they did 40 years ago.

I underate for a long period and needed advice like this. The vast majority of people clearly do not need license to overeat. We are biologically attuned for more food scarcity, or at least social dining where overeating earns opprobrium.

@mscott, bullshit. no salt pre cooking? frequently? as in not always? I don't believe you. you must not have a need for sodium. a salt free streak tastes completely disgusting, just like salt free butter, and salt free potatoes taste completely disgusting.

@4a, which is why it depends on how much oil and cream one is consuming. its not about calories, its about free oil, and cream (cheese). for example, someone said that when they visit their family for the holidays they gain fat, not just "weight" but fat, because they are cuban, and cuban food "is high in calories." but when you actually analyze the ingredients, he was eating a high amount of free oils and cheese (cream). if you took the oil and cream out of the equation, but ate the same exact meals, he would not gain fat when visiting his family.

Whaat naww a nice steak can be good without salt! There are folks out there who eat raw meat, like pounds of uncooked beef, apparently (I mean I haven't met them personally, but they're on the internet). By contrast I really wouldn't have thought my unsalted steaks are that unbelievable.

can be good without salt? lets be very specific here. do you eat a 100% salt and condiment free steak every time you eat a steak? no hot sauce, no A1 sauce, no fresh ground pepper, nothing? no marinade, no pre-salting, nothing?

"There are folks out there who eat raw meat, like pounds of uncooked beef, apparently (I mean I haven't met them personally, but they're on the internet)."

Those people are from the Aajonus Vonderplanitz crowd, I doubt they really eat how they purport. Aajonus recently died from a heart attack from his high fat diet.

"People in America are fat because they eat 400 more calories per day than they did 40 years ago."


1, Anecdotal but you said "was" so what about now?
2. Those are rats, not humans.
3. Kresser is an acupuncturist with a paleo podcast.
4. Ok.
Bonus. Ok.

Think about this logically. When hunger occurs, it is only a matter of short time that you will start to feel really bad if you purposely do not eat. But whether or not a meal that you start to eat is big or small and frequency is not the issue. Satiety is the issue. When you are hungry, why would you only eat a "small" meal? Why wouldn't you just eat until you don't want to eat anymore? Unless you are purposely trying to "restrict," but if you actually do this, you'll see how hard it is to truly "restrict." You always want to eat to satiety, period. That amount to satiety is up to your body in that moment. People really twist this "I wasn't eating enough" thing. Never in my life did I purposely stop eating a meal because I was concerned of eating too much, nor did I ever question if I was eating enough. I just ate. I just eat. Purposely stopping yourself from finishing the amount of food that you actually want to finish eating, leaves you unsatisfied and hungry.

But the next issue after this is that there must be a way of eating that does not cause you to store fat, but a way of eating that keeps your MR up, and keeps you lean. Non food factors apply here too but a basic diet that achieves this is key.

answered Feb 21, 2015 by Westside PUFAs