One of the biggest myths regarding meal frequency is that you must eat many small meals and snacks in a day if you want to look your best. The reasoning for this is that you want to keep insulin levels stable and do not want to allow yourself to get too hungry so that you won’t eat everything in sight. This camp also argues that eating all the time will also help speed up your metabolism.
Studies have proven that in fact eating many small meals may be WORSE for weight loss and trying to lose weight. First of all you are only allowed a certain number of calories per day. If you eat anymore you gain weight, if you eat less you lose weight. Simple.
Now think about it, If you are eating all the time the meals have to be so small that you never ever feel satisfied and are hungry all the time anyways. Also, studies have proven that all the little “snacks” people have between meals add up over the day and could quite possibly help “wipe out” your calorie deficit that is needed for weight loss. Even if the snacks are so called healthy.
On the opposite end of the spectrum you got the intermittent fasters who fast for 16 hours and eat a few meals in an 8 hour window, which has produced some excellent results in terms of weight loss and body composition.
I like to fall somewhere in the middle with my clients. This is a happy balance between not being hungry and actually feeling satisfied from their meals. For women I like to use 2-3 meals a day and for men I like to use 2-4 meals/day. The amount of meals and size is affected by the macronutrient/calorie goals that I am trying to hit with them.
So for example say I am giving a female client 1500 calories/day to lose weight. If you eat 5 meals a day that’s only 300 calories/meal which is such a small meal that it will only leave the person feeling more hungry and never satisfied. They will actually feel hungry all the time.
But how about if you do that 1500 over 2 or 3 meals? Now you are looking at 500 or 750 calories/meal. Not only will the person be full after these meals (if they are eating the right foods), they will feel satisfied and doesn’t make dieting so hard. Dieting is much easier if you are never hungry and actually feel like your meals hit the spot and fill you up. As opposed to eating all day like a bird.
Men will tend to have 4 meals/day as their protein and calorie requirements will be higher.
So my suggestions is this. If you are trying to lose weight have fewer, but larger meals. Not only will the you be less hungry, and experience better weight loss results, but you will also not be one of those people carrying around a bunch of meals for the whole day, which is not practical for most anyways.
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