If you’ve been trying to take care of your health, then you have surely come across the information, ‘eating 5-6 smaller meals a day is the best way to lose weight and eat healthily’. This claim is linked to the idea that healthy snacks keep the metabolism humming throughout the day, staves off hunger and controls blood sugar levels longer than having big meals, which makes sense, but is it true?

Studies have been done to test this theory and they actually found there are no extra weight loss benefits to this style of eating, as it didn’t burn extra calories and in fact made the test subjects want to eat more. As for the metabolic or thermic effect of the scattered digestion (thermic effect is the amount of energy expenditure above the resting metabolic rate due to the cost of processing food for use and storage), eating three meals of 800 calories had the same thermic effect as six 400 calorie meals

There is also the question of whether more frequent meals balances blood sugar levels.

It is commonly assumed that the rapid rise in blood sugar levels is the result of eating larger meals, while sustained release of food stabilizes levels throughout the day.

Currently, there are no studies that support this claim; rather, the contrary is suggested, where it has been hypothesized that fewer larger meals produce lower blood glucose levels on average.

An ever-trending and often controversial topic in its own right is the practice of intermittent fasting. It is the strategic abstinence from eating during specific times of the day, allowing your body ample time to digest, while reducing insulin resistance and enhancing hormone function to facilitate weight loss. The question remains whether the individual enters ‘starvation mode’ when performing this fasting, thus losing muscle mass. In turn, the individual may gain weight once they have finally consumed something. It has been found, however, that only after 2-3 days of complete fasting do these symptoms become cause for concern. Studies have proven that the health benefits are possible and it has even been linked to anti-aging techniques.

Whether you have three big meals a day, or six smaller ones, quite often its best to follow your gut and eat intuitively. Approach your diet and food consumption with a positive and healthy mindset, and even get some advice from an accredited dietitian or nutritionist to see what will work best for you.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9155494

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19943985

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3661473

http://www.pnas.org/content/100/10/6216.full.pdf