What's best for fat loss? It depends. Here's what you need to know.
Find Your Ideal Eating Structure
The key to losing body fat and keeping it off is simply this: figure out what's sustainable.
Those who achieve their body composition goal and maintain it are those who can stick with the changes they make in the long run. Sure, you can cut huge amounts of carbs and fats, basically surviving on only protein and stimulants, and you'll lose fat pretty fast. But such an approach can't be sustained, and it'll make you feel like crap.
Then once you've had enough you'll rebound the other way – the yo-yo phenomenon. Instead, choose an eating structure that fits your natural tendencies, and find foods that'll help you reach a better body comp while being enjoyable.
Several Small Meals or a Few Big Ones?
I always ask clients to fill out a one-week nutrition journal. They write what they eat, drink, the quantities, and also the time of day they're having meals. This gives me a clue about their natural tendencies, what they naturally enjoy doing or are comfortable with.
Most people like to feel satisfied when they eat. Having a small meal and still being somewhat hungry is like having your wife tease you in the bedroom and leave when you're "ready to go." So there's no wonder the traditional bodybuilding protocol of 6-8 small meals per day doesn't cut it for some lifters.
Recent studies have shown that eating frequency doesn't have a significant impact on fat loss if everything else is equal. But even if that way of eating WAS optimal, it wouldn't be the best choice for a lot of people because each small meal may actually make them crave more food.
Eating two or three solid meals per day with a Metabolic Drive® shake or two is best for me because I can eat more at each meal, feel satisfied, and not crave food.
Other people prefer nibbling or don't have huge appetites. They do well with 6-8 small meals. If they're forced to eat three large meals it might make them uncomfortable and they'd stop the plan or get suboptimal results. So select an eating pattern that fits your natural tendencies.
The second thing to do is select foods you enjoy that are conducive to your fat loss goal. If you enjoy your meals you'll be a lot less likely to look for enjoyment from crap.
Cheats and Refeeds
My last tip: don't wait until you're almost eating the walls to get a "refeed." I'm not talking about a "cheat." Most people should stay away from cheats full of junk food when dieting down. It just keeps you addicted to that junk and makes the whole process more difficult.
By refeed I mean slightly increasing your fats and/or carbs. Even one day of eating at maintenance or slightly over will be enough if you do it before you get mad cravings.
Most people who screw up their fat loss phase do so because they overdo the refeed/cheating thing. You can stop your fat loss progress with one day of too much overeating.