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Eating More Meals: The Truth

The Truth About Eating More Meals

Michael Morrison

One of the biggest misconceptions in fitness literature is the notion that eating more meals speeds up your metabolism. This is not true. The next time you read an article or a book which tells you this, be skeptical. Let us examine what really happens when you eat more meals per day (most diets recommend 6).

There is a reason why people have had success with eating multiple smaller meals during the day. But the reason is not what you might think it is. People don't lose weight on such dieting plans because their metabolism speeds up allowing them to burn more fat. In fact, if you examine the evidence, shouldn't your body have to do the same amount of work to digest 3 big meals as it has to do to digest 6 small ones? Let us take a closer look at why eating multiple smaller meals works:

  • People are advised to eat more vegetables and lean protein sources
  • Eating often eliminates cravings and hunger pangs.
  • You end up eating less than your body expends per day, creating a calorific deficit.

As we can see, this system works because it follows the cardinal rule of weight loss - eat less calories than you burn. Therefore, if you can eat the same number of calories in 3 larger meals as opposed to 6 smaller ones, you would still have the same results.

The truth is that there is no scientific evidence which proves eating smaller meals a day allows you to burn more fat. There is also no evidence that eating more often speeds up your metabolic rate. For a lot of people, eating 5-6 times a day is almost impossible. This causes a lot of people to abandon their diet plans prematurely. In a study done by the Department of Pediatrics of the Vanderbilt University concluded that the total amount of food eaten, not the number of meals it is divided into is what determines overall energy expended. Basically, the frequency of your meals has no bearing on an increase in your metabolic rate.

In fact, there are some inherent disadvantages of having to eat 5-6 meals daily. You may end up increasing your cravings if you don't have enough variety in your meals. Your insulin levels may increase if you are substituting some meals with protein bars or similar foods which contain loads of sugar. Sometimes, you may end up eating slightly more than your require at a particular meal. This will reduce your chances of creating an overall calorific deficit for the day. Additionally, do you really think you will be able to sustain a lifestyle which requires you to eat 5-6 times per day while working 50 hours per week?

If you are looking for an eating strategy which is both sustainable and easy to add to your lifestyle, intermittent fasting is one option. Intermittent fasting offers you all the perceived benefits of eating more frequently without any of the disadvantages. Consider the following:

  • Your metabolic rate will not drop anytime during the day. In fact, it is likely to increase slightly.
  • When you are in the fasting phase, your body will burn more free fatty acids.
  • You need not worry about eating all day.
  • You don't have to worry about carrying your food to work and other places out of fear of missing a meal.
  • You don't have to substitute your meals with protein supplements or protein bars. If you are looking to build muscle on an intermittent fasting diet, you might need to add the extra protein to supplement your muscle building.

Thus we can see that you don't need to worry about eating a certain number of times every day. The effect that it will have on your body will ultimately depend only upon the number of calories you end up consuming. If you switch to an intermittent fasting routine, you may see better results with your weight loss goals. So stop worrying about your meal frequency, and focus on eating healthier and maintaining an active lifestyle.


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