Eating several meals per day will not help you lose weight! Justification for this claim is centered around the belief that eating several meals per day enhances postprandial thermogenesis. Numerous studies have confirmed this and you should take note. Next time a fitness professional tells you to eat 6 small meals a day, be sure to question the source of information. Always do your research and find value in good reproducible research.
Eating several meals per day puts you at high risk for gaining weight. For example, If you divide 2000 calories into 5 small meals of 400 calories this will help stabilize blood sugars if you macros are protein and fiber rich. However blood sugar stabilization does not always guarantee weight loss. If you are dedicated and discipline enough to carefully weight out your food portions and establish accurate the exact caloric composition, then you should be out of harms way. However in my 18 year history as a personal trainer and nutritionist, I am yet to meet a client who has the time, desire or discipline to weigh out their food. This is such a tedious task and busy work professionals won’t do it.
Researchers have shown that individuals who eat several small meals per day over consume their calories by 20%. For example lets say you are on a 2000 calorie diet, and you don’t weigh and calculate each individual meal, you risk increasing each meal by 80 calories! 5 meals multiplied by 80 calories equates to an extra 400 calories per day That’s and additional 2800 extra calories per week. YES, you will gain 3 pounds per month. Over the course of 1 year you will have increased your body weight by upwards of 36 pounds. Not pretty!
Studies investigating the effects of eating several small meals per day on weight loss are numerous and have been conducted on the overweight and obese populations. When daily caloric intake was matched with 3 meals versus 9 meals, no difference in weight loss was ever observed. The same studies have concluded that is far more beneficial to focus on eating fewer calories than you are expending for weight loss. The number of extra meals consumed will not fire up your metabolism and aid in weight loss.
In conclusion there is no one best meal frequency. It is far more beneficial to focus on total calories and macronutrient intake, if you goal is fat loss and muscle gain.
One thing to consider, is tendency for weight gain for those who skip meals. According to Nutrition Reviews Journal “Irregular eating habits can have negative metabolic effects.” Especially for those individuals who do not exercise. This finding alone gives confirmation of the benefits of establishing good simple three meal a day eating regimen, versus skipping meals.
Rivak Hoffman is a Mesa Arizona Personal Trainer and owner of Every Bit Fit – Fitness and Nutrition LLC. He is an avid writer whose mission is to decipher fact from fiction in the confusing world of health, fitness and nutritional sciences. For more information about Rivak and his company click here EveryBitFitAZ