In my book, REBOOT, I suggest eating every 3-5 hours (rather than 1-2 big meals a day)….not just for boosting your energy, but also to help reign in your appetite and manage your weight.
Just out…another research study which compared two-weeks of following a low-calorie program with either two meals a day or six meals a day. The more-frequent, smaller meals resulted in a lower likelihood of loss of lean muscle mass (as can happen with any weight loss diet). When following the six-feedings-a-day program participants also had healthier levels of glucose, insulin, and cholesterol. Of course, the study was just two weeks long.
So, how often should you eat? Consider these facts:
- The body burns calories 24/7 just to stay alive…not just when we’re awake or when we’re active
- When we eat, the body turns the food into fuel within 3-5 hours (small versus large meals)…at that point, nearly all of the extra calories turn into fat
- A large meal doesn’t give you more energy…it just makes you fatter
- When we go too long without eating, the hungrier we get and the more we tend to overeat at the next meal
That’s why I suggest always eating breakfast (because you’ve gone 8+ hours without fuel). And, I feel that it’s important to eat again once you get hungry…but not overly hungry.
So, depending on how much you like to eat at one time, that’s every 3-5 hours. If the opportunity to eat only invites you to overeat, it’s probably best to eat three solid meals a day, or maybe three meals and one snack (aiming to eat every 4-5 hours).
For more active individuals who are more capable of controlling how much they eat at one time, it’s best to eat smaller meals 5-6 times a day (or every 3-4 hours). And, then remember to eat only what you need to make the hunger go away….don’t eat until you’re full. Think of “full” as “fat” (because when you’re feeling full, you’ve eaten more than your body needs, leading to fat storage).
Here’s the link if you want to read the actual research study mentioned earlier.