Gone are the days when eating three healthy meals a day was the standard for healthy weight loss. When that recommendation was established, the majority of the population was either working a hard physical job, or they were in a specialized field that didn’t require sitting on one’s rear all day long. A large meal was intended to last a person through the day when they didn’t get federally-mandated breaks and lunch periods, and when housework and meal-making was a lot more physically taxing (when’s the last time you scrubbed the floor with a hand brush or churned your own butter?). Times have changed, and our eating habits should, too. Now most health experts recommend six small meals a day for optimal weight loss – leaving the old mentality of fueling up just three times a day behind.
It makes a lot more sense, that now that we’ve moved into a more information-driven and technologically advanced society, that eating smaller meals would be a more logical choice to keep your metabolism fired up. There are tools that make your housework easier and are more sedentary in our jobs, so eating large meals really serves no purpose as we return to our desks and simply sit – except maybe to slow down our metabolisms, make us more tired, and help us hold on to excess weight. Eating six small meals, on the other hand, gives us just enough fuel to keep our bodies in motion internally, they don’t overwork our digestive systems when the fuel isn’t needed, and doesn’t leave us feeling sluggish as our bodies are constantly trying to digest all the food we’ve shoveled in.
Eating six small meals a day also has another benefit aside from keeping metabolisms moving: smaller meals will not overstretch your stomach. This is a big deal for people who have struggled with weight loss, as cutting back on the amount of food taken in within a single sitting can often leave those accustomed to larger meals unsatisfied, and still hungry. In these cases, the smaller meals should consist of more protein/fat and less carbs in the beginning; this is mainly because although protein snacks (like cheese and nuts) are smaller in quantity, they can make you feel full and take longer to digest. Temporarily switching to protein-infused snacks (even those with fat) can ease your hunger pangs and shrink your stomach at the same time – and a smaller stomach will leave you feeling full a lot quicker, so that’s great for the long-term.
So, how often should you eat your meals? The general consensus within the health industry is that if you want to lose weight more quickly, you should eat small meals every 3 hours. This means you may have to adjust your perspective on what a “meal” actually is. Giving your body a meal is simply giving it fuel, and providing enough taste and mouth/brain pleasure for you to feel satisfied. Most people find success by first planning one large meal (lunch or dinner), accounting for its calories, and then planning the rest of the “meals” around the main meal.
Switching to 6 smaller meals (or 1 larger meal and five small meals) it a little hard at first; you really have to keep an eye on the clock and make sure your body is getting the fuel for semi-continuous processing. If you can do this, however, you will find that there is a significant difference in the rate at which your weight comes off – and who doesn’t want that? When trying to determine whether 3 big meals a day or 6 small meals a day is better, 6 meals a day is the clear winner when it comes to losing weight.
© depositphotos.com/vitaliigubin, © depositphotos.com/jultud