Eat More Often
Eat More Often, Lose More Weight
Meal frequency has been the subject of debate among nutrition experts for decades. The one thing about which almost everyone agrees on is that breakfast is essential. Eating a meal of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats within an hour or so of rising can rev up your metabolism and give you fuel for an active day. But how big should it be? And how long after breakfast should you eat your next meal? And what about the one after that?
You may have heard some nutrition experts say that people should eat "mini meals" every two to three hours, or four to six times per day. The strategy behind this theory is that eating small meals throughout the day can keep your blood sugar levels consistent, lower cholesterol, promote weight loss, improve energy levels, boost metabolism, and preserve lean muscle mass.
If five to six meals a day sounds appealing to you, try it. If not, stick with what works for you,
Enjoying three squares a day is a perfectly healthy way to eat, and there are far more important things you can focus on, besides meal frequency: like how much food you’re eating in general.
Remember, weight control will always come down to an energy equation --calories in versus calories out.
One thing to try, if you don't snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon, is to incorporate small snacks along with your three daily meals—but watch that you don 't exceed your calorie allotment for the day.
If you decide to delve into the world of mini meals, here are some things to consider:
- Eating more often isn't for everyone. If you have trouble stopping eating once you start, you may wind up overeating. If your mini meals turn into large meals, or you have problems with discipline or portion control, then eating more often during the day might have negative consequences for you.
- You don't have to cook several times a day. Do you find yourself wondering, “Who has the time to cook six meals?” One simple solution is to cook “regular” sized meals, and split them in half. Stick the other half in the fridge and eat it when you feel hungry later. And your "meals" can look more like "snacks," which can be easier to put together.
- Learn what hunger really feels like. Some people get crabby and others get uncomfortable hunger pangs. As soon as you notice your body's hunger signals, make sure you eat within an hour. Irregular eating patterns and skipped meals can confuse your body and mess up your metabolism. Plus, if you wait until you’re feeling ravenous, you may be more likely to overeat.
- Eating more often may help curb hunger. Many people who follow a reduced-calorie weight loss plan struggle with hunger. But eating more frequently throughout the day can help with feelings of fullness and satiety, so you're more likely to stick with your plan.
- Eat balanced meals for the best results. Your mini meals should be nutritionally balanced, containing complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.
- Meet your calorie range by the end of the day. You should also meet your body's needs for all other key nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals. One good way to do this is to decide how many meals you want to eat and divide your calorie goal by that number to find out how many calories each of your meals should contain. (So if you eat 1,800 calories per day, divide 1,800 by 6 to get 300, which means you'll eat six 300-calorie meals that day).