Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Does eating six small meals a day produce more weight loss than eating three meals a day?

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So, does eating six small meals a day produce more weight loss than eating three meals a day?

Well, the bottom line is that eating 6 meals a day does not lead to more weight loss than eating 3 meals a day.

While some studies have shown that having a higher meal frequency reduces food intake because you are reportedly less hungry, and that this in turn encourages fat loss, other studies have not been able to confirm this relationship. It appears that fat loss is only higher in situations where ‘dieters’ are also exercising more restraint over what they eat, and are also doing more exercise.

A study released this year by the British Journal of Nutrition, suggested that eating small frequent meals did not impact on appetite factors either.

So, what’s the moral of this little story.

a) eat the meal frequency that suits you and your lifestyle, whether it be 3, 4, 5 or 6 meals. For example, many people eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and a snack at around 3-4pm. As long as you are not going over your required energy intake by eating the snack, the afternoon snack may ultimately help you manage your hunger and prevent you from “pigging out” at your next main meal

b) if you have diabetes type I or II small regular meals are recommended to optimize blood sugar and insulin management

c) maintain your eating routines from day to day because your body and your lifestyle will adjust to it.

d) always eat breakfast

e) don’t eat food because it is there, or because someone offers it. Unless you are hungry say no to unscheduled food opportunities

f) avoid tiredness because the brain misconstrues tiredness as low energy levels and will stimulate a sensation of hunger causing you to eat more when you are tired. People tend to have less self-discipline when they are tired and eat more high sugar, high energy foods or “junk food” when they are feeling tired and fatigued. Eating non-nutritious foods when tired only makes your body feel more tired because it is not getting the nutrients it needs to run optimally. This sets up a cycle of poor eating habits and food cravings

g) regardless of the meal frequency you choose, you will need to exercise restraint over your food choices and to maintain a reasonable activity level, preferably at least 60 minutes of moderate activity a day.

Never forget, weight loss at its most basic is a maths equation. Less in, more out – eat less, exercise more.

Reference: Cameron, J. D., Cyr, M-J, & Doucet, E. (2010). Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. British Journal of Nutrition, 103, 1098 – 1101.

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