What is better – 3 meals per day or 6 small ones?
Posted on | September 28, 2010 | No Comments
This is one of my most frequently asked questions – and I am happy to recently discover research supporting my argument that 3 is best!
One of the crazes in last 20 years has been the promotion of eating 6 smaller meals throughout the day to ‘boost your metabolism’ and help you lose weight. I call this ‘grazing’. The school of thought is that if you eat more often, you’ll lose more weight. Small, but frequent meals will help keep your metabolism in high gear, and that means you’ll burn more calories overall. It is believed that if there are too many hours between meals, your metabolism actually slows down to compensate. If your body thinks it’s starving and slows metabolism down, when you do consume food your body will hold on to every calorie as a survival mechanism.
Recent research was conducted on a group of 27 overweight men and found that eating three solid meals per day helped in their weight-loss battle (Purdue University in Indiana). The study revealed that overweight and obese men on low-kilojoule, high-protein diets felt more satisfied and less hungry when they ate three times a day compared to when they ate six times a day.
Therefore – eating 3 meals made them less hungry.
I promote eating 3 meals per day that are protein dominant. Why? Because 1) Protein doesn’t convert to sugar – which stabilizes your blood sugar that affects hunger and cravings 2) Protein takes longer to digest and keeps you full for longer 3) Protein encourages lean muscle mass growth which will increase metabolism!!!!
Also, what “grazers” don’t realize are a few physiological facts about hunger. You need more than 350g of food in your stomach for the ‘satiety’ response to be engaged. What am I saying?? You need at least 350g of food before your brain receives the message it’s full and to stop eating.
For people that graze throughout the day eating smaller portions – they find it hard to feel full as they will never receive the physiological response to satiety as the portion sizes are so small. So “grazing” will never help with appetite control.
“Grazers” also need to consider what they are doing to their body by constantly feeding it. Every time a snack is taken, the body is forced to produce Insulin to draw the glucose from the blood stream into the cells of the body to function. “Grazers” are stressing their insulin producing cells of the body by over-stimulating them. There is study currently being conducted to assess whether ‘grazing’ can lead to Diabetes.
The study continued on to publish a report on a group of obese men that were either put on a protein-dominant diet or a normal-protein diet for 12 weeks. The men were given the two different eating plans for three consecutive days. Researchers found that men who ate three protein-dominant meals felt fuller throughout the day and didn’t want to eat as much late at night. As an important side note – protein dominant does not mean HIGH protein (aka The Atkins Diet).
So, when people ask me whether 6 small meals boosts your metabolism and will help you lose weight – I say no. I always say – have a decent size meal that is comprised of mainly green leafy vegetables, a palm size portion of lean protein, only a fist size portion of carbohydrates (1/2 cup) and minimal fat. And as usual – eat slowly, put your utensils down between mouthfuls and always stop eating when you feel 80% full because it’s better to waste it than to ‘waist’ it.
Tags: how to boost metabolism > is 3 meals better than 6 > protein dominant meals > The Atkins Diet > will 6 small meals help me lose weight
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