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Meal Frequency & Food Distribution When Cutting

In recent years the arguments about meal frequency have started to wane off.

I’m so glad about that haha. Now that we know we can choose our prefered diet structure as long as we hit our macros, we can make our diet fit our lifestyle not the other way around. That’s great for adherence and consistency (which leads to results)!

Meal Frequency and Food Distribution Myths

Before I give you my recommended diet structure, I’d like to mention again that as long you control the total calories and macronutrients you’re eating, food distribution is irrelevant. Small meals do not ramp up the metabolism neither are they better for appetite control, eating in the evening doesn’t make you fat and you don’t need to eat protein every three hours to maintain your muscle mass.

This means you can choose whatever structure makes it easy and enjoyable for you to stick to the macros.

My recommended diet structure

With that said, I’ve noticed that eating small meals throughout the day is not the best strategy for most people. They never feel satisfied after a small meal and they lose a lot of time cooking, eating and cleaning.

For this reason I think it’s easier and more enjoyable to eat only 2 or 3 big meals a day using an Intermittent Fasting setup. This way, you maintain a negative energy balance but you can still eat big meals that leave you satisfied. The psychological pressure is much lower this way.

I’m sure most you are familiar with Intermittent Fasting. It is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting and non-fasting. There are a few different popular types (you may have heard of Leangains, The Warrior Diet, or Eat Stop Eat) but in this guide we refer to a simple form of daily fasting where you are just purposefully skipping breakfast.

So the diet structure could look something like this:

Template 1:

  • 12-2 PM – First meal of the day (30% of daily calories)
  • 4-6 PM – Second meal (30% of calories)
  • 8-9 PM – Final meal (40% of calories)

Template 2:

  • 12-2 PM – First meal of the day (15% of daily calories)
  • 4-6 PM – Second meal (60% of calories)
  • 8-9 PM – Final meal (25% of calories)

Template 3:

  • 12-2 PM – First meal of the day (40% of daily calories)
  • 6-9 PM – Final meal (60% of calories)

* Training is done between meals or before the first one.

I recommend making the first meal somewhat smaller than the others. This is what I found to be the most enjoyable and convenient way to eat and so did my clients.

If you’re not familiar with IF, let me explain why this eating pattern is better for hunger control and adherance.

Why we skip breakfast

By skipping breakfast we take advantage of the fact that most people are not hungry in the morning and can save more calories for the second part of the day. In fact, many people (myself included) get hungry if they eat breakfast. Interestingly enough, fasting has appetite surpressing effects. During fasting, catecholamine levels increase and this could be an explanation for why we don’t feel hungry. Our bodies want us to move and search for food because this would increase our chance of survival.

Have you ever felt really hungry but for some reason could not eat right then only to discover that after a few hours your hunger had almost disappeared? That’s probably why that happens. By skipping breakfast we intentionally take advantage of this phenomenon.

Why we eat more in the second part of the day

We eat most of our food in the second part of the day for comfort and satiety.

Most people are genetically and socially inclined to eat more in the evening. Some researchers speculate that this is the way our species evolved – we would hunt or gather food during the morning hours and only get to eat in the second part of the day. If you think about it, this way of eating also fits our lifestyle today. In the morning and noon we go to work, or school and are generally busy and only in the second part of the day we have time to cook and eat a good meal.

Moreover, almost every social event we attend (weddings, parties, dinner with the family or friends, going to movies, etc) happens in the evening. That is why it makes sense to save a good portion of our calorie budget for the evening meal. Some people recommend the opposite, not to eat anything after 6 PM but this is a losing strategy right of the bat. How could we have a social life if we don’t eat in the evening?

How to eat during the day

The main point of fasting is pushing your first meal later in the day. To do this you’ll only have to fast for 4-6 hours after waking up. During this time you’ll drink water and have one cup of black coffee.

Coffee is great for blunting appetite so we use it strategically during the fasting hours. If you can, I recommend not drinking coffee right after you wake up but about one or two hours later. This will help you get to your first meal without feeling hungry at all.  Also it helps if you drink it slowly over the course of 30-60 minutes.

Template one:

If you choose to have 3 medium sized meals every day (my personal favorite) then around lunch you’ll have your first meal. I recommend having only protein and veggies for your first meal. This will save carbs for dinner allowing you to enjoy a big, satisfying meal.

So, you could eat 50-70g of protein in this meal and a large serving of veggies. For example: chicken breast and a large salad. Or you could have an omelet made from 2 whole eggs and 7-8 egg whites and a large salad. Or one large can of tuna and a large salad.

Around 4-6 PM you could have another meal like the first one or just a snack such as cottage cheese with an apple or one sandwich with a lot of lean meat. You should include at least 30g of protein in this meal while keeping the calories relatively low.

In the evening you’ll have your large meal that will consist of 50-70g of protein, 70-80g of carbs and 20-30g of fat. This will be a really large meal and you’ll feel amazing after it. You could have broiled beef or pork, a large serving of potatoes, a bit of butter and a large salad.

I personally picked up this eating style from Greg’s Aggressive Fat Loss Program and never looked back.

Template 2:

Other people prefer to eat just a little during the day and have a very large, kick-ass meal at night. My partner Greg from Kinobody does this.

When cutting he usually breaks his fast with an apple, about 5-6 hours after waking up.

As his first meal he has some meat and veggies or sometimes just a chocolate bar.

Then a few hours later he’ll have a 1200-1300kcal meal that includes most of his daily protein and fat, a lot of veggies and little carbs.

As his last meal he’ll have the carbs: usually potatoes, pop-chips, or frozen yogurt. That’s the beauty of Intermittent Fasting – it allows for some hedonism even when cutting.

Adherence benefits of Intermittent Fasting

So, in short the reasons I think IF works great for cutting are:

  1. Better hunger control because of the fasting period
  2. It’s harder to overeat during the short eating window
  3. More satisfying meals
  4. Less time spent preparing and eating food
  5. Saves enough calories for the evening meal to allow eating out
  6. Eliminates the need for cheat-meals

All these psychological factors combined with the right food choices will easily create the caloric deficit needed for fat loss.


What are your thoughts on the ideal diet structure? Have anything to add to this article? Do you have any questions? Let’s talk in the comment section below! 


  • Verboeket-van de Venne WP, Westerterp KR. Frequency of feeding, weight reduction and energy metabolism. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1993 Jan;17(1):31-6. [PubMed]
  • Cameron JD, et al. Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. Br J Nutr. 2009 Nov 30:1-4. [Epub ahead of print] [Medline]
  • Leidy HJ, et al. The Influence of Higher Protein Intake and Greater Eating Frequency on Appetite Control in Overweight and Obese Men. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Mar 25. [Epub ahead of print] [Medline]
  • Sensi S. Chronobiological aspects of weight loss in obesity: effects of different meal timing regimens. Chronobiol Int. 1987;4(2):251-61. [PubMed]
  • Aragorn, AA. Is there a limit to how much protein the body can use in a single meal? []
  • Frank A.J.L. Scheer, Christopher J. Morris, Steven A. Shea. The Internal Circadian Clock Increases Hunger and Appetite in the Evening Independent of Food Intake and Other Behaviors. Obesity (Silver Spring). Mar 2013; 21(3): 421–423. [PubMed]
  • Berkhan M. June, 2012. Why Does Breakfast Make Me Hungry? [leangains]
  • Berkhan M. October, 2010. Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked. [leangains]
  • Berkhan M. August, 2009. Ghrelin and Entertainment. [leangains]

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  1. Felex on July 19, 2015 at 5:53 am


    I am following template 1 .

    I hope I can learn more.. By the way how many months you felt the change of your body?


    • Radu Antoniu on July 19, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Sure, follow template 1.

      It depends. You should be able to lose 1.5 lbs of fat per week with this plan. You should be able to see big changes in 2-4 weeks.

  2. Jorge on August 23, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks, excellent article. I agree that once you start eating after your fast it’s easy to crave food again within a short amount of time. I call it food cravings, and I’m in favor of not using the word “hunger” or “hungry”. Go a week without food, that’s when you start to get hungry. That’s just my opinion.

    But here’s a question: I have been a coffee addict for most part of my life. I’m cutting back on it since i started IF. Here in Portugal we are more used to drinking espressos and not so much filtered or pressed coffee. How many cups of espresso do you recommend during the fasting period?

    • Radu Antoniu on August 24, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      Hey Jorge!


      I would drink only one espresso. You can drink 2 from time to time but on a daily basis I think that would give you too much caffeine. You don’t want to develop a high tolerance to it.

  3. shrey on August 24, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Mr Radu, i have watched your all videos and read all articles, i am very much enlightened. thankyou very much . i am thinking of following template 2 based on Mr. Greg recommendation about intermittent fasting. he delays his 1st meal 6 hours after waking up. can you tell me, does it mean no matter what time we wake up ( i wake up at 6am, and Greg wakes up at 10 am), all we have to do is to delay 1st meal for 6 hours ?
    can you please check the schedule i have designed for me, i would be very obliged :
    6am- wake up, have black coffee
    10am- apple, and go to gym ( * please check this, can i have an apple before workout? )
    12pm- 1st meal
    3-4pm- 2nd meal
    7-8pm – 3rd and last meal


    • Radu Antoniu on August 24, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      Thanks Shrey!

      Yes, your schedule looks good.

      Yes, the idea is to delay your first meal a few hours after you wake up. Now if one day you wake up a lot later than usual, you can have your first meal 2-3 hours after waking up. You don’t have to be very rigid about this stuff, you just want to save most of your calories for dinner time

  4. Rich on November 24, 2015 at 4:10 am

    Does it matter if I am in a calorie deficit? And which template will help cut fat the fastest?


    • Radu Antoniu on November 28, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      All templates would produce equal results. What matters is the total calories and macros you consume, not the way you distribute them.

  5. Corey on January 5, 2016 at 6:26 am

    From my basic understanding I was under the impression that if I were to eat multiple small meals a day (within my macro and calorie limit), I would be able to reduce the insulin response by limiting my glycemic load resulting in less fat storage? Even so I still believe the difference is fairly trivial. I’d be interested in your thoughts about this?

    • Radu Antoniu on January 5, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      In a deficit there can’t be any fat storage because well, you’re in a deficit.

      I don’t know much about insulin yet but you can always trust the law of thermodynamics. If you eat less energy than you expend, you lose body mass. Insulin can do nothing about that.

  6. Jennifer on March 2, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you for providing the different eating templates and how much the proteins we should have at each meal. Is it true that our body can only absorb a certain amount of protein at a time? I heard that we should not eat more than 30 g of proteins at a time; otherwise, the remainder (20+) grams of proteins are wasted. Is that correct?

  7. Matt on April 10, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Hi Radu

    I am doing leangains 16/8 everyday, and i am also in a significant calorie deficit on purpose. I am 5’10” and 230lb with a thick muscular physique, but carrying about 30lb of extra weight. I started 16/8 and calorie deficit (2180 cal) 2 months ago and have lost 20lbs. I am really enjoying IF. My question is, am i eating enough calories?? Maintenance is about 3100 calories based on my size, manual labour employment, and gym time. Im just worried i could be hurting my fat loss goals by not eating enough. Thanks for any help!

    • Radu Antoniu on April 26, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      Hey Matt!

      2180kcal is fine. When you a high body fat percentage losing fat quickly is not an issue. The risk of muscle loss is very little (actually if you train, you gain muscle as a beginner even with this deficit).
      Keep your calorie intake at that level until you no longer lose fat. That should probably be when you reach ~180 lbs

  8. Sten Renssen on April 27, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Hello Radu,

    I recently got started with the aggressive fat loss program and i’d like to thank you, i really like the results thus far. However i can’t help but wonder if i’m doing it correctly. It’s not exactly the way you and Greg do it, but i think that my adaption is good enough. Your opinion on it would be appreciated.

    07:30 to 11:00 – (I prefer to drink tea)
    11:00 Fruit 0/ 14/ 0
    13:30 Small meal 12/ 16/ 30 (Protein/Carbs/Fats)
    17:30 Big meal 118/ 95/ 42
    19:00 Gym Time
    21:00 Small meal 54/ 50/ 0 (with fruit)

    Total macro’s: 184g protein, 175g carbs, 72g fats

    Some side notes:
    – I go to the gym 4 times a week, heavy lifting (Adapted to Greg’s program)
    – 3 rest days with 1 hour cardio (2 times running, once swimming)
    – Friday is the re-feed day

    Any feedback would really be great, thanks!

    • Radu Antoniu on April 30, 2016 at 6:24 pm

      Hey Sten!

      Yes that will work very well. I’m glad that you adopted it to your style. That’s the key to long term success – finding your own eating style.

  9. Fernando on May 4, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Hey Radu!

    I´ve watched most of your videos you have posted on youtube, I´m really amazed about all the achievements that you have being doing al this time. I´m just starting the Warrior Shredded Program from Kinobody, and I just want to ask you if all this info is good or not.

    1st. My height is 5´7 and my bw is 141 pounds, I can see my abs, but I have a little bit of lower back fat.
    I´m eating 1500 calories per day, I wake up at 6 a.m every morning from Monday to Friday. Take my First Black Coffee at 9:40 a.m and my Second Black Coffee at 11 a.m.

    -350 cals (medium protein, medium fat and low carbs) in the morning(12-1 p.m)

    -350 calories (high protein, medium fat and low carbs) in the afternoon(3-4 p.m)

    -750 calories (high carbs, medium protein and fats) in the night(7-8 p.m).

    When I was Doing AFL I increase my weights really well, hope this is good for me to be ready to go!

    • Radu Antoniu on May 4, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      Looks great Fernando!

  10. Pablo M on May 10, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Hey Radu,

    I’ve seen most of your videos by now and I’m really interested in your opinion.
    I’m 5’8 150 pounds with an “average” body .
    I wake up at 6am daily and I fast until 2pm then I take my first meal, usually consists of chicken or fish with steamed veggies and quinoa. Then up until 7 to 8pm I workout , and after the workout I usually eat right after, somewhere around 9 to 9:30.
    I only eat twice a day and drink water regularly . Should I make some changes? I really want to have a more shredded physique. How much would I have to weigh for that.

    Thank you

  11. Shawn on May 11, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Love your videos, thanks for all the hard work. Do you ever have trouble with blood sugar? i find I get weak or dizzy feeling if i go for a few hours without eating something. Sometimes i’m not even really hungry, just uncomfortable, hard to concentrate and weak. Makes it hard to fast.

  12. Li on May 16, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    Hi Radu
    I never make it for 140 proteins
    I weight 75kg
    I do body weight and started to skeep Brakfast
    Is that very bad?
    I don’t think eathing so much meat is healthy for us and I don’t like to it it more than 3 times a week max

    Please advise brother
    Thank you

    • Geok on June 14, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      Hey , I know I’am late but I think I can help you a bit 😀
      There are other sources of proteins such as : eggs , cheese , milk , beans , soy (50g of proteins /100g) and many others .

  13. Li on May 16, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Hi Radu
    I never make it for 140 proteins
    I weight 75kg
    I do body weight and started to skeep Brakfast
    Is that very bad?
    I don’t think eathing so much meat is healthy for us and I don’t like to it it more than 3 times a week max

    Please advise brother
    Thank you

  14. Mostafa Mohamed on May 16, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    Hello Radu,

    Thanks alot for your great effort for explaining this great plan.

    I’m 5.8 ft and 211 lbs with about 40% muscles percentage and 20+ bf.

    My total calories intake are between 2100 and 2300 (40 c /40 p /20 f)

    (chicken breasts, meats, egg, oats, milk, whey proteins…etc also I’m taking fat burners)

    Training 5 days/week heavy weightlifting + post training cardio.

    My question: is this a good plan to reach 7% bf without losing muscles and increase it if possible, for how long should I follow this to see the result also if there is any tweaking can be done it will be much appreciated to point it out for me.

    Thanks alot

    • Mostafa Mohamed on May 19, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      Hey Radu ! any joy ?! 🙂

  15. yosef ferdinand on May 30, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Hi Radu…
    thank you for your article and your videos,it’s give me new knowledge about fat loss..
    now i follow template 1,my height is 188 cm and weight 105kg,is it ok that my calorie per day about 2250 kcal ?


  16. randy on July 1, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Hey Radu!
    I’m currently doing a physical demanding job and wanted to ask if I should still fast in the morning even though I need a lot of energy at that time?

  17. adrian on July 4, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Radu,

    I have started to lift for the first time in my life 7 weeks ago. I have started with cutting. I’m training 3 days/week. I’m 40 years old, 1,82 cm tall and weight 72 kg when I started. The program is this:
    Day 1 – Monday
    1st meal at 13:00
    2nd meal at 18:00
    Training from 22:00 at 23:00
    3rd meal at 23:30

    Day 2
    1st meal at 08:00
    2nd meal at 13:00
    3rd meal at 18:00
    4th meal at 22:00

    Day 3
    1st meal at 13:00
    2nd meal at 18:00
    Training from 22:00 at 23:00
    3rd meal at 23:30

    Day 4
    1st meal at 08:00
    2nd meal at 13:00
    3rd meal at 18:00
    4th meal at 22:00

    Day 5
    1st meal at 13:00
    2nd meal at 18:00
    Training from 22:00 at 23:00
    3rd meal at 23:30

    Day 6
    1st meal at 08:00
    2nd meal at 13:00
    3rd meal at 18:00
    4th meal at 22:00

    Day 7
    1st meal at 13:00
    2nd meal at 18:00
    3rd meal at 22:00

    Since the macro-nutrients partition start after training and peaks at 24h after, I decided to fast on the first part of the day of training and on a 7th day. Per week I’m in a deficit and on the rest day I’m at maintenance. I have cut 4 kg in this 7 weeks, starting at 18-19% of BF and getting to 15% BF now with 68 kg currently. Now, the BF I have approximated by measuring my waist. It was at 87 cm at the beginning and now is 82 cm. Strength improved a little(eg. chin-ups 1 set X 5 rep BW to 3 sets X 8 reps BW). I will do this until I get to 8-9% BF. Probably another 8-10 weeks, since I noticed that cutting BF is a little bit slower from now on. If you have time, can you share your opinion? Thank you for your understanding.

    • Libby on July 19, 2016 at 11:06 am

      That hits the target peytceflr. Thanks!

  18. Daniel Erlenbusch on July 27, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    How many days in a row do I suppose to Intermittent fast?

  19. Vassilis on August 8, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Dear Radu,
    I am 175cm and i started my cutting period since March 2016 when i was 91kg. Now 5 months after I’am 73kg. During cutting period I took care of my macros, and i saw a muscle grow since then as it would be natural.

    My training patern is 3 /week weight and cardio with gradual raise in the lifts.
    I’m on a 1500Kcal nutrition program yet trying to hit the 67 kg goal, so I can start bulking until 70kg and then cutting again. I haven’t seen any plateau yet.

    I wanted to try IF, in fact i’m doing it since last week and it feels Ok at the moment. But I’m afraid i’m doing something wrong because i dont’ follow exactly the way you say and some times I can’t reach the 1500Kcal/ day because i’m really full!
    I would like your opinion about all these so far. This is mine IF:

    Work out days
    Wake up: 7:00
    Drink first espresso americano coffee: 8:30
    Second Espresso americano: 11:00
    Work out at the gym: 16:00 (15 min cardio warm up, lifts and 30min cardio in the end)
    Post work out: Protein shake 30min after lifting
    First Meal of the day: 18:00 (30min – 1 hr after Post Work out meal – meat, eggs, veggies some carbs)
    Protein Snack: 19:00 – 20:00 (Protein Bar/ Shake)
    Second Meal of the day 21:00 – 22:00 mostly home made smothies (4-5 fruits, protein scoop, healthy seeds)
    Casein Shake at 23:00 – 23:30

    No Work out days
    Wake up: 7:00
    Drink first espresso coffee: 8:30
    Second Espresso: 11:00
    First Meal of the day: 16:00 (Proteins/Carbs/Fats)
    Protein Snack: 18:00 – 19:00 (Protein Bar/ Shake)
    Second Meal of the day 20:00 – 21:00 mostly home made smothies (4-5 fruits, protein scoop, healthy seeds)
    Casein Shake at 23:00 – 23:30

    How do you see it? Is it compressed to the end a lot?? Is there any recommendations??

    Thanks in advance

  20. Sasi on January 4, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Radu,

    I am Sasi from India. Started lifting after seeing your videos. Can you please suggest me a plan if i am working out early in morning at 6.00am. Please advise me on how my meal timings should be.

  21. Dave on May 25, 2017 at 4:47 am

    Intermittent fasting and high repetitions with extended sets during high intensity interval training can’t remember the spelling Myrna muscle building concept from your other website sorry the point I’m trying to make is no one would believe how much fat loss and muscle building are taking place without counting calories and basically eating more than my share of junk yes at times even some homemade chocolate chip cookies ice-cream and a few coca cola’s it’s really about hard work focus and determination and the conflation of sound advice from people like you whom I say really give a damn about other people trying to exceed limitations thanks my friend your an inspiration

  22. Yair on June 8, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Hi, I’m following the intermittent fasting, actually it’s quite easy for me not to eat until late. My problem is with getting enough protein and still stay on a cut. I basically weigh about 70kg, and therefore should eat around 140g of protein a day. The thing is I don’t like to eat a lot of meat, and it’s almost impossible for me to reach that much protein without eating mostly meat, or going over my calories threshold. Any recommendations?

  23. Ahmed on December 27, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Hi Radu,
    I am fallowing tamble 1 and I do have question
    I am 2450 kcal per day according to the shredsmart calculator do I have to plus and calories because I am working out or not and how much I should add if I have to.

    Thank you.

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