How many meals should you eat a day? This is a question that I’m sure many people have asked themselves at some point or another.
The quick answer is that it does NOT matter. Three, four, five, or six meals makes no difference to maintaining a healthy lifestyle or for weight loss.
Here’s what you should know:
– Eating more frequently doesn’t increase your metabolism – Eating 3 larger meals doesn’t make you gain weight or slow your metabolism An article published in the New York Times discusses this idea that there is no difference between 3 or 6 meals when it comes to our body’s metabolism. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/23/health/23really.html) With that in mind… The decision on how many meals to eat per day really comes down to lifestyle and personal preference. Regardless of the number of meals you eat, make sure you…
1) Stay within YOUR calorie range, don’t over eat or under eat
2) Don’t go more than 4 or 5 hours without eating
- Don’t wait until you are on the brink of starvation bc then you may end up overeating
- Don’t skip meals
3) Eat when you are hungry – stop when you are satisfied, not full or stuffed. 4) Slow down when you eat – your body takes time to register that it is satisfied so your stomach may be physically content (has enough food), but your brain hasn’t registered that yet, so if you slow down, take your time, chew and enjoy the food, it allows your brain to catch up. You may just stop eating mid-meal because you are satisfied. whereas if you wolf it down, 20 minutes later you may suddenly feel overstuffed. 5) Meals should have the right balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats)
What is boils down to is this…
Follow these guidelines and whatever number of meals that equals out to for you is fine:
- If you hate the idea of not feeling full then more frequent, smaller meals will leave you unsatisfied, opt for larger, less frequent meals.
- If you hate feeling full or hate any sort of bloating associated with eating somewhat larger meals, then maybe smaller meals, more frequently might be better for you
- If your lifestyle isn’t well suited for getting several chances to eat throughout the day, then you should opt for fewer meals during the day.
- If you don’t have time to sit down and eat, (always on the go), smaller more frequent meals may be the way to go.
Eating late at night doesn’t make a difference, as long as you don’t go over you total number of required calories. “Skipping” breakfast doesn’t matter either. What is important is that you do what works for you, I hear some people say that they hate eating early in the morning, I am one of them, it makes me sick to my stomach. So I will eat 2 -3 hours after I wake up. For others, breakfast to be the first thing they do after waking. Again whats important is that you don’t go over the total number of calories that you require per day. More likely than not, you’ve heard that people who skip breakfast end up becoming extremely hungry and they overeat at the next meal because of this. This isn’t always the case, take me for example, I’m fine not eating first thing in the morning, however, If you are someone who may overeat if you don’t eat your first meal of the day immediately after waking, then it’s a good idea to eat something in the morning.
It may take some experimentation, but remember, you have to figure out what works best for you given your lifestyle and preferences. This is a journey!
How many meals do YOU eat a day? ~ Letisha