Okay, so how often should you actually eat to lose fat?
Do 2 big meals a day have the same effect as 6 meals? For example, you often hear people say, you know “Don’t eat carbs after six” , or “Don’t eat at all after six” , or “Don’t eat close to bed” or “Eat more frequently to keep your metabolism high” .
But how true are these things?
Well, I’m going to do some “myth busting” for you today.
So, how often should you actually eat to lose weight?
People often ask me…
“Shubha, does eating more often really help boost my metabolism, and keep the ‘fire’ going?”
Well they’ve actually done some fascinating studies on this, but I’m just going to finally tell you in the simplest of way….
No. It does not.
Eating more frequently… well we do actually jump to the study itself later which is pretty amazing, but the truth is that no, it does not affect your metabolism!
Eating more frequently does not boost your metabolism.
I’ll say it again; eating more frequently does not boost your metabolism.
There are people that eat infrequently, like one or two meals a day, and they still lose weight. Or, there are people who eat one or two meals a day that gain weight. So it depends a lot on what you’re eating, and not when you’re eating it.
So about that study, they wanted to compare if you ate three meals a day versus three meals a day plus three snacks.
So they studied three big meals a day versus three meals and three snacks, which is something that typically, fitness gurus and dieticians recommend.
Here’s what they found:
The researchers found that it did not matter as long as the participants in this study were consuming less calories, overall, they found that they had an identical rate of weight or fat loss.
It didn’t matter if they ate three small meals, three big meals, or three big meals and three snacks. It did not matter as long as they were reaching the same caloric range.
So the actual meal number did not make a difference for these people in their weight loss.
Now, there’s another really interesting study to compare, what if we ate a few small meals a day versus a couple huge ones, you get more calories that way, right? Would there be a difference in metabolism because of how many meals we were eating?
Now what’s fascinating was in this second study they compared anywhere between 1 and 17 meals in a day.
Here’s what they found:
Eating frequent small meals, did produce a small boost in metabolism.
But eating infrequent big meals produced a big boost in metabolism!
Wait… don’t go haaaooww!
Even more shocking and unexpected thing they saw was that, at the end of the day, it balances itself out!
So people naturally still were eating within the required range. It did not matter if they ate frequent small meals or huge, infrequent big meals, they still balanced each other out. So does that make sense?
It did not matter if they ate a big meal squarely or small meals frequently.
So the bottom line here is that what you need to pay attention to is meal composition…
And you also need to individualize it for you, because one of the big things is that hunger is always subjective.
That’s why I recommend you to eat protein with every single meal because it helps you stay fuller longer.
Of course, ‘how much’ you should eat is highly individualized, but the objective part here is it’s confirmed by science that proteins stimulate the ‘I-am-full’ hormones.
So for some people, they feel fuller on six meals a day. Others feel fuller on three meals a day.
The main thing to remember is eat only when you are REALLY and truly hungry. It doesn’t matter if you eat three or five, or fifteen, or whatever number of meals, as long as you’re eating what your body needs for the day, it makes sense.
Personally, I never go more than 3 to 3 and half hours without eating, and remember the hungrier you get, the more of an inclination you will have to eat junk foods and snacks. And I’ve noticed in myself as well as so many other people that once your blood sugar levels go down, very often it will trigger the “bad food” cravings almost immediately.
So yes, if you can, eat frequently, and eat a good amount of protein. And that will help you stay within this range, and again it does not matter how often you are eating, all right?
Just focus on the right foods, on the ‘what’, remember? And the ‘how’ and ‘how much’ takes care of themselves.