I’m sure you have heard it before but one of the best ways to control your caloric intake and lose weight is to eat more often throughout the day. Ideally, you should eat 5 to 6 times per day, with 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours between each meal or snack. There are several reasons why this works and we have listed several of them below!
Reason #1 – Eating more frequently gets your metabolism going and keeps it working at an elevated level continuously throughout the day.
Reason #2 – It will amp up your energy and keep your insulin levels consistent during the day (no high spikes).
Reason #3 – Because you are eating more frequently, you should eat a smaller portion at each meal or snack. Use some common sense here and remember the key word is SMALL! If you are eating your normal portions, this won’t work! This isn’t as hard as it sounds because you just won’t be as hungry since you just ate 2 or 3 hours prior.
Reason #4 – Since you are not as hungry, it is much easier to pick a lean and healthy snack. When you let yourself get really hungry you are much more likely to grab whatever is in sight and this usually means junk food. This is also when you start to crave all of those things that are so high in fat and calories and you will probably eat more of these sinful foods.
Reason #5 – Even though you will actually be eating LESS food that you are now, you will feel like you are eating MORE. Your mind and body will equate eating more frequently with more food which will result in feeling more satisfied.
Reason #6 – Knowing that you will be eating more often, you should plan ahead for your meals and snacks. This, too, will help to ensure that you pick foods that are good for you and fit into a lean and healthy diet.
Reason #7 – In the words of nutritionist Antony Hynes, “Grazing is the way our body was designed to eat.” The traditional three large meals a day actually burdens the digestive system and causes lethargy and bloating. Our blood sugar spikes and when the meal is digested, our blood sugar falls causing an energy crash. Small, nutrient dense meals throughout the day have the opposite effect. The low sugar content and smaller portions don’t allow a high blood sugar spike. Therefore, our bodies begin to optimize insulin production (ie: we don’t crash at the end of every meal). Instead, it enables us to be productive and satisfied all day without experiencing low energy. Small meals contain less glucose than larger meals so our blood sugar increases at a much slower rate. Many people who suffer from diabetes or hypoglycemia use these guidelines in order to stabilize their blood sugar all day long.
Reason #8 – The Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Unit has also found that small, frequent meals stabilize fatty acids in the blood. Inconsistent fatty acid measurements lead to a higher risk of heart disease which is why this type of eating plan is such a success. By stabilizing the fatty acids, you’re maintaining preventative measures of heart disease and other ailments. On average, researchers have found regular grazers tend to eat more clean carbohydrates, less fat and more fruits and vegetables, which leads to higher than average levels of vitamin C and other nutrients.
Reason #9 – Although it takes a while to get adjusted to a diet of smaller portions, it can easily be done by splitting your typical meals in half. If you usually have cereal for breakfast, you could eat half the amount of cereal you would normally eat and then proceed to eat a piece of fruit a few hours later when you get to work. At work, most of us usually have some type of snack before lunch and instead of getting a candy bar from the vending machine, you could opt for a granola bar or some Greek yogurt. At lunch, leave half of your sandwich for later in the afternoon. Immediately after work, when you would usually be famished and racing to eat some chips or other junk food, try to eat a small side salad or some healthy soup. Later in the evening when you would usually be eating dinner, have a small protein-rich snack like cottage cheese or a few hard boiled eggs. When those midnight sugar cravings start creeping up on you, make a quick and tasty protein shake. After a few days of splitting your meals, you’ll find that will you develop a natural cycle that fits with your lifestyle. Instead of waiting hours between your normal “3 squares” a day, you will be consistently feeding yourself small meals throughout the day which will help you feel satisfied.
Reason #10 – When we eat more frequently our bodies begin to habitually expect more food to be on the way. Because of this, our bodies are more likely to burn calories instead of storing them. Eating one or two large meals a day while being extremely hungry in between those meals will leave your body actually storing calories. Your body begins to conserve calories as it is experiencing infrequent food sources and attempts to prevent starvation. After years of doing this, your body will habitually conserve these calories no matter what you’re eating which can lead to obesity, diabetes and other health issues. Eating frequently allows your body to release and burn calories as it knows that more food is certainly on its way.
Is it easy to incorporate eating 5 to 6 times per day into your busy schedule? Not at first but be patient! It does take a little extra time and planning. Is it worth it? Absolutely! If you do it sensibly, it will help you to control your fat and calorie intake. The result will be reaching your weight loss goals and achieving your dream body!