A question we get a lot at the gym, and especially during some of our challenges is: “Should I eat 6 meals a day with small snacks throughout the day, or 3 main meals a day?” This question is obviously assuming you are already having breakfast, lunch and dinner each day already, and you are wondering if having smaller, more frequent meals is the answer to fat loss.
Here is some of the research. There have been a few studies from the past several years that came out showing how eating more frequently will help you lose weight. The logic is that the more meals you eat the more you’ll “stoke” the metabolic fire and burn calories (as eating alone literally has a thermogenic effect). So, we started using that logic at the gym. 6 small meals must be better than just 3 big ones, right?!
As that theory “sounds” correct and is an appealing approach to some, research has shown otherwise.
Multiple studies have shown that eating more frequently versus 3 bigger meals were equally beneficial. There was NO difference in weight loss or metabolism.
You do gain a slight metabolic raise when you eat, but it doesn’t have anything to do with how frequently the meals are consumed but rather how much in total calories that you consume.
One study showed that when the calories were matched, the metabolism had the same reaction. It didn’t matter if the participants ate 6 meals or 3.
Now, what does this all mean? Well, this is actually great news! You don’t have to follow any one way. You can choose a frequency that works for your schedule, your lifestyle, and your happiness.
Another thing to consider: if you are able to start on a schedule of eating consistently 3 meals a day, as opposed to 6, you have that many less opportunities and times to make a small “slip” or mistake in your nutrition or planning. Figuring out what to eat, including snacks, shakes, bars, etc can be stressful, especially when you are just first starting out on a new nutritional plan.
Let’s just say you are eating one meal a day right now, and moving up to 3 meals a day feels daunting. Your goal would be to just try to get a second meal/snack in during the day, and track it in a nutrition “journal.”
Most people have a problem with their awareness around what they actually eat—not how much their eating. That’s why we start everyone with tracking and journaling everything you eat in the beginning. A study by Kaiser Permanente showed that those who document what they eat literally doubled their weight loss results.
If we told you by just tracking, you could improve your fat loss results by 100%, would you do it?!
Heres the big takeaway – Try to find an eating frequency that fits your schedule and start documenting your food choices to give yourself every chance to see success!
There are so many “Diets” out there right now, from Keto to Intermittent Fasting, to Low Carb, High Protein, etc, etc. Everyone who says they are a “professional” in this field that are pushing these diets to make a buck, are truly not professionals. Nutrition needs to be made simple by using the basics (remember, I said simple, not easy!) If you are going to start with one small change, I would stick with the takeaway above.
If you are looking for guidance and accountability on this topic, our 5th annual “New Year New You” Challenge Kickoff Seminar is this Saturday, Jan. 26th at 10:30am, where you can learn all of these things and more in a very inclusive and positive environment over a 42 day journey.
Learn more below and to save your spot at the New Year New You Seminar!