Increasing Meal Frequency in Isoenergetic Conditions Does Not Affect Body Composition Change and Appetite During Weight Gain in Japanese Athletes

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2021 Mar 1;31(2):109-114. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2020-0139. Epub 2020 Dec 25.


For athletes to gain body mass, especially muscle, an increase in energy consumption is necessary. To increase their energy intake, many athletes consume more meals, including supplementary meals or snacks. However, the influence of meal frequency on changes in body composition and appetite is unclear. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of meal frequency on changes in body composition and appetite during weight gain in athletes through a well-controlled dietary intervention. Ten male collegiate rowers with weight gain goals were included in this study. The subjects were randomly classified into two groups, and dietary intervention was implemented using a crossover method. During the intervention period, all subjects were provided identical meals aimed to provide a positive energy balance. The meals were consumed at a frequency of either three times (regular frequency) or six times (high frequency) a day. Body composition was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and the visual analog scale was used for the evaluation of appetite. In both trials, body weight, fat-free mass, and fat mass significantly increased; however, an interaction (Trial × Time) was not observed. Visual analog scale did not vary between trials. Our data suggest that partitioning identical excess dietary intakes over three or six meals does not influence changes in body composition or appetite during weight gain in athletes.

Keywords: dietary intervention; energy balance; energy surplus; fat free mass; nutritional intake.

MeSH terms

  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Athletes*
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Meals / physiology*
  • Weight Gain / physiology*
  • Young Adult