You’ve probably heard that you can lose weight more effectively when you spread your meals across the entire day, say 5-6 times daily. Well, how true is that?
Claims around this are that the more frequent you eat (as long as it is healthy), the more your metabolism is raved up and your blood sugar is controlled easily that way, which therefore reduces your risk of diabetes.
Actually, this is quite true because “After about 3 hours without food, blood sugar begins to fall. And after 4 hours, your body has already digested whatever you sent down earlier.” This is according to Cleveland dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD. “Once you’ve crossed the 5-hour mark, your blood sugar begins to plummet, and you grab whatever you can to refuel.” This is where overeating and weight gain comes in.
So, how many meals is recommended per day to lose weight?
However, it doesn’t matter how many times you eat daily as long as you eat the right quantity and quality of food (calories and nutrients).
According to an Australian study, 179 obese men and women were all on the same healthy, weight-loss diet and with the same calorie intake, but with differing eating patterns.
Some ate 3 times a day, others ate 6 times (this covered 3 meals and 3 snacks in between to boost metabolism and speed up fat-burning).
Anyway, according to lead researcher Michelle Palmer, a dietician at the University of Newcastle, “There seems to be little benefit to changing how often or how regularly you eat if you’re trying to lose weight. We found it’s not when you eat that matters, but what and how much you eat.”
Also in a different study, the metabolic rate of people who ate from 1-5 meals a day (same calories) was tested and still, no difference found.
This just proves that it isn’t the number of meals that you eat that matters, but the quality and quantity of what you eat.
Now, what should a healthy meal look like?
Whether you go for the 5-6 really small meals per day or 3 portion-controlled meals per day in order to lose weight, the first thing to note is PORTION!
Portion size matters a lot as it keeps you from munching in those extra calories.
Next to portion control is NUTRIENTS!
So, some people are of the opinion that to lose weight, you have to cut down on calories alone (even if it means, not getting the essential nutrients needed by the body for effective functioning). But that’s where they are wrong.
Basically, you want to make such your every meal is balanced, a few kgs of protein, one or more cups of raw vegetables or fruit, a small amount of unsaturated fats, and finally carbs, especially fibre rich carbs like whole grains. Just try to stick as natural foods (unprocessed foods) as much as possible.
Be sure to avoid junks, sugary foods and processed foods as these foods are highly loaded in calories and with little or no nutrient at all. These kinds of foods are responsible for weight gain, abdominal fat and obesity, if not properly controlled.
So, the most important thing to consider for either you want to lose weight or you just want to stick to a healthy eating lifestyle is to consider eating quality (in terms of nutrients), quantity (in terms of calories) and of course, portion control.