Most people are inclined to believe that eating small but frequent meals is the go-to option if you are aiming for fat loss. The question is if it is the right option. An exhaustive analysis has led to the conclusion that while it may be an option, it certainly is not better than other meal schedules that are prevalent. The key factors remain food quality and energy balance. Deciding on a food structure is utmost important.
The outright approach can vary but still, it is critical to decide on a structure initially. It is better to choose an approach that easily fits your body and schedule. It can either be the same each day or it can vary depending on what each day looks like.
Following are the approaches to eating so as to follow a healthy lifestyle:
Eating Three Square Meals
- This can go down as the most convenient schedule. All you need to do is make three decisions every day.
- Taking recourse to three square meals can be liberating in the sense that you can actually eat until you are full and satiated.
- It is best in case you can’t seem to find your way with small frequent meals.
- This option, however, can be difficult if you cannot resist any kind of temptation say around your college or office.
Eating 1-2 Meals with 1-2 Snacks
- There are times when your work leaves you no time for breakfast or lunch. This approach works best in schedules like these.
- A simple snack like banana and nuts in the morning and you are good to go. Then, make sure to eat a solid lunch followed by a snack and then heavy dinner. Or maybe, you could eat heavy breakfast, two snacks midday, and a heavy dinner. Either way works.
- It is imperative to have a snacking plan if you want this approach to work out in your favor. It is okay to eat frequently but make sure it is planned. Make sure to acutely portion the meals so that you can evade hunger id and when it strikes at an inappropriate time.
Eating 5-6 meals a Day
- With the outbreak of bodybuilding, this approach has become more popular than the rest. This is helpful only for selected people.
- If and only if you have time and have a penchant for planning, go for it.
- If you are the one to eat small amounts at one time, then also you can go for it.
- Naturally, this approach is best suited for bodybuilding because in case you lift for the living, it is hard to get sufficient calories in just three meals.
- There is a possibility for this to become too cumbersome. So it might not be easy to start with.
Eat One Meal a Day
- This one is not usually recommended but it can be useful to some. Intermittent fasting can be extreme.
- If you do not have decent food choices at your workplace, one meal a day could work for you.
- It also works for people who eat quite a lot but they also have room for more.
- However, it has a downside. Intermittent fasting is not meant for most people as they cannot thrive on this kind of structure. No matter how efficient it is, it is far from realistic.
Some Myths Doing the Rounds
Eating Frequently Boosts your Metabolism
It is a belief that eating more meals leads to increased metabolic rate. The body expends a certain amount of energy digesting and imbibing the nutrients in a meal. It is called the thermal effect of food and amounts to 20-30% of calories for protein, 5-10%for carbs and up to 3% for fat calories.
However, what matters here is the total amount of calories consumed, not the number of meals you eat. Eating six 500-calorie meals has the exact same effect as eating three 1000-calorie meals.
Eating Frequently helps Reduce Hunger
Some people believe that snacking prevents cravings and excessive hunger. Some studies suggest that more frequent meals reduce hunger while some show increased hunger levels. One study discovered that 3 rich in protein meals were better at reducing hunger than 6 high-protein meals.
Having said that, this may depend on the individual. If snacking helps you experience fewer cravings and makes you less likely to binge, then it is perhaps a good idea.
Many Smaller Meals can help you Lose Weight
Frequent meals do not boost metabolism (increase calories out). They also do not seem to reduce hunger (reduce calories in). If eating more frequently has no impact on the energy balance equation, then ideally it shouldn’t have any effect on weight loss.
However, if you find that eating more often makes it easier for you to eat fewer calories and less junk food, then probably this is for you.
Eating often is Good for Health
A body cannot be always in the fed state. Small periods of fasting are important. This period is when the cells use old and dysfunctional proteins of energy. The fact is that fasting from time to time has several benefits for metabolic health.
There are also some studies suggesting that snacking, and eating very often, can have negative effects on health and raise your risk of disease.
Few More Myths
- Fasting puts your body in starvation mode
- The body can only use a certain amount of protein per meal
- Intermittent Fasting makes you lose muscle
- Intermittent Fasting makes you overeat
- The brain needs a constant supply of glucose
Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting
Pros: Humans have been fasting since time immemorial. Our bodies are conditioned to handle fasting. Research has proven that fasting prevents diseases, boosts metabolism, prompts weight loss and even prolongs life. It is more viable to fast rather than plan for various small meals.
Cons: Staying away from food and nutrition for long periods can be extremely challenging. On the social front also, it is not easy to skip meals while everyone around you eats. People can overeat during their eating cycles. It can also worsen food obsession.
Both intermittent fasting and mini meals can be fruitful. However, their effect depends on the following factors:
- Meal Timing
- Meal Content
- Meal Size
Both of these strategies are capable of producing results as both leads to reduced calorie intake. While both can be effective, small meals plan promotes wholesome calories that are quintessential for burning fat and muscle building. Lastly, it all boils down to choosing what best fits the mold of your own lifestyle.