Most of us have grown up eating 3 square meals a day; breakfast lunch and dinner. However, the wisdom of this convention has been challenged with increasing regularity in recent years. There are those who insist that eating 5 – 6 times per day, but reducing the amount of food per meal, is a more efficient way of monitoring your intake, is healthier for your body and can lead to weight loss. So just how accurate are these claims? Let’s look at them in more detail.
Claim 1: More Regular Meals Increase Your Metabolism
The most common claim by those who recommend eating more often during the day is that the process of eating a meal raises your metabolism, so by eating several small meals every day you are increasing your metabolism more regularly. This, in turn, should lead to more fat being burned by your body. While the statement that eating does increase your metabolism, it’s not quite right to suggest that by digesting more often, you are expending more energy. The truth is that the amount of energy you use when digesting food is directly related to the quantity of food to be digested. The net benefit of more regular meals in this instance is little.
Claim 2: Eating More Frequently Helps to Control Cravings
This is a far more practical claim, and one that is more readily accepted by many health experts. No matter how big a meal we eat, there always seems to be room for a snack in between meals. This tends to be true regardless of the size of the meals consumed. However, by eating twice as often, you can remove the cravings for snacks, simply because they don’t have time to present themselves. By the time you start to crave a snack, it’s time for your next meal! For this reason, eating several small meals per day can be hugely beneficial in monitoring caloric intake.
Claim 3: Eating More Frequently Helps to Maintain Stable Blood Sugar Levels
Unfortunately, this claim stops dead in its tracks when compared against actual evidence. The theory that blood sugar levels can be more accurately maintained by regular meals makes sense, but in practice it has little impact on most people. For this reason, it really shouldn’t be considered a benefit of eating more frequently. The science simply isn’t there to back it up.
Eating more frequently every day might work for some people, but it should not be pitched as a scientific solution to fat loss. Are there benefits? For some people, absolutely. Eating more regularly can be an effective tool in controlling cravings and thus lead to a more managed diet. However, from a strictly biological point of view, the differences between strategies are negligible.
Ultimately, if it works for you, stick to it. If it doesn’t, stick to what does work. It’s that simple!