Purdue Lean Protein & Meal Frequency Study

Hey guys and gals,

I like reading science studies — if you’ve been around for awhile on this blog you know I’m a nerd like that — but I don’t always rely on them to “prove” what I know works in the real world.

When I wrote the Samurai Diet, I was focusing on a plan that I believed to be not only effective, but functional and sustainable for busy, working professionals.  Science can’t always tell you what that is.  In other words, I was not just factoring in the physiological aspects of a diet, but also the psychological and social aspects. What works in the real world is more important than what sounds good on paper.

I’ve worked with real people in the real world for over 10 years, and what I’ve discovered is that for 90% of people with real jobs, the traditional fitness/bodybuilding nutrition approach of 6 small meals a day is impractical for the long-term.  Sure, someone might be able to follow it for a short time frame while motivation is high (say for beach season, or for a Facebook picture update, or to trick people with your e-dating profile picture, etc.), but its not necessarily a sustainable lifestyle approach for a large percentage of the population.

And selfishly, I was interested in using practical experience to come up with a plan that would allow me (and others) to stay in year-round photo-shoot shape, without having to give up their career.  On a side note, I’m not just hanging out in the gym working out and reading fitness mags all day like you may think.   I make my living training, writing, consulting, and just overall hussling and bustling like anyone else who owns their own business.  I needed an approach that would be as functional as it would be effective.

What I came up with, and the foundation of The Samurai Diet approach, is this:

1. Protein-only breakfast

2. Paleo-style lunch (lean protein, veggies).  *Optional — some afternoon delight with your favorite cavewoman.

3. Japanese-style dinner (lean protein, veggies, combined with a select few starches: yams, potatoes, or rice). *Optional – a beautiful night exchanging pleasantries and other things with your favorite Geisha Girl.

You can see that the overall structure of my approach geared specifically towards fat loss is 3, lean protein-based meals a day.  Since modern society is based 0n the 3-meal a day structure, I feel this is the most practical and realistic approach for busy professionals.

And then, I came across this Purdue University article and study the other day, implying that 3 lean protein-based meals may indeed be the best weight loss approach, even more so than the smaller, more frequent meal approach deemed “necessary” in the fitness industry.  So its not just my opinion, there’s some University lab teams studying this stuff.

I thought I’d shoot you over the link, and highlight a few quotes.  Here we go:

  • Eating fewer, regular-sized meals with higher amounts of lean protein can make one feel more full than eating smaller, more frequent meals, according to new research from Purdue University.
  • We found that when eating high amounts of protein, men who were trying to lose weight felt fuller throughout the day; they also experienced a reduction in late-night desire to eat and had fewer thoughts of food.
  • We also found that despite the common trend of eating smaller, more frequent meals, eating frequency had relatively no beneficial impact on appetite control. The larger meals led to reductions in appetite, and people felt full. We want to emphasize though that these three larger meals were restricted in calories and reflected appropriate portion sizes to be effective in weight loss.
  • Our advice for people trying to lose weight is to add a moderate amount of protein at three regular meals a day to help appetite control and the feeling of fullness..and if they are incorporated at meals when people do not normally consume protein, such as at breakfast and lunch, they may prove to be a nice strategy to control weight; promote satiety, which is the feeling of being full; and retain lean tissue mass.
  • Eating frequency also was tested because it is a common belief that eating more frequent, smaller meals a day can lead to weight loss. One of the reasons for this belief is that older studies suggest people who are overweight and obese tend to eat fewer meals.  As a result, the idea was that fewer, larger meals were contributing or encouraging overconsumption and resulting in obesity and that the people who were more successful with weight control were eating smaller, more frequent meals…But our findings turn that on its head.
  • Second, we had more individuals struggle with complying with consuming six meals a day, specifically, of those in the study who were not compliant, 90 percent were specifically unable to follow the six-meal-a-day eating pattern. People told us anecdotally that they couldn’t stop work to eat a meal, even if it was small.

Appetite control, retention of lean muscle mass, AND some semblance of practicality?  Sounds good to me.

Here’s the link to the full article which includes the research study at the end: Purdue University Lean Protein & Meal Frequency Article

8 thoughts on “Purdue Lean Protein & Meal Frequency Study

  1. natemiyaki

    I work out in the early afternoon and eat my lunch as my post-workout meal, slightly later than most

  2. alex dubedat

    When you personally follow this program do you work out in the morning or at night?

  3. natemiyaki

    I will write future, more detailed posts on this topic in future blogs because it is so against conventional fitness wisdom. I also believe it makes the plan much more sustainable in the long term. In the meantime, I am emailing you directly an excerpt from my book on this topic.

  4. Kay

    Why protein only at breakfast and starch at night? This is also contrary to conventional wisdom, yet you do not explain why…

  5. David Haas

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?