There seems to be a lot of confusion around the number of meals you should be eating each day to optimize weight loss. Is having 2 to 3 big meals better than 5 to 6 small meals or vice versa? Common arguments around this topic include that eating breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, spreading your meals throughout the day can reduce hunger and cravings, or that eating right before bed causes weight gain. And what about intermittent fasting?
The truth is that the research shows mixed results and what works for one person may not work for everyone. To help you decide what is right for you, here are answers to the most common questions about meal frequency.
Do Frequent Meals Reduce Hunger and Cravings?
Some studies suggest that increased meal frequency does not effect overall fat loss and may actually increase feelings of hunger . And eating less often is associated with improved appetite control in a number of studies.
The type of food you eat can also strongly impact hunger levels. Several studies have examined the effects of eating more high sugar foods and refined carbohydrates on increased appetite . And more recent research emphasizes the importance of nutrient dense, whole foods – especially high protein foods, for better hunger management and overall weight loss
Does Eating Before Bed Cause Weight Gain?
Well, the thing is your metabolism doesn’t shut off just because you went to bed. And your body is going to use whatever energy you provide it, no matter what time it is – as long as you aren’t going over your daily calorie needs However, some studies do suggest that those who tend to eat later at night, tend to consume more calories overall which can lead to weight gain And late night eaters tend to make poorer food choices
The best time to eat dinner depends on your overall daily intake and when you are hungry – it really boils down to personal preference. If you have a hard time controlling your calorie intake during the day, sticking to a set schedule and eating smaller portions instead of larger meals at night may help. And if you tend to crave unhealthy foods at night, opt for nutrient dense snacks over a full meal if you need to eat late, and eating more calories earlier in the day. eating smaller portions instead of larger meals
Why Is Breakfast So Important?
Some research suggests that eating a large breakfast and smaller lunch and dinner, in addition to less snacking and fewer meals overall, may promote better weight management due to improved appetite throughout the day and decreased calorie intake
In addition, having a large breakfast may support blood sugar control. In one study diabetics who ate more calories earlier in the day had better blood sugar control throughout the day .
But what you eat for breakfast could be just as key as a large meal itself. In one study, participants who ate a high carbohydrate and protein breakfast reported less hunger and cravings in a calorie deficit. And high protein breakfasts have long been associated with better weight management
A good amount of research continues to associate larger breakfasts with improved appetite throughout the day, blood sugar control and better calorie control overall. These effects are most strongly seen with high protein breakfasts and quality food choices.
By: Dammy Eneli