Are Small Frequent Meals Keeping You From Your Goals?

In it’s simplest form the method to lose weight is to expend more calories than you take in daily. The notion of eating five to six small meals throughout the day is thought to control hunger and allow your body to burn the calories from each meal more quickly and easily. This recommendation is the go-to of the fitness industry and with people “in the know” however, science evolves, and so this notion is no longer a straightforward one.

This theory goes back and forth more often than a tennis ball at wimbledon and it does yet again. New research shows that eating more or less frequently does not affect your metabolism, therefore does not affect your daily calorie burn. Fans of Intermittent Fasting will like that news.

Some studies show that eating more smaller meals more frequently causes the individual to eat fewer calories throughout the day and decreases hunger as well. Some of these same studies have also shown that these people consume healthier foods and maintain a lower body mass index than individuals who eat fewer, larger meals daily.

But, while smaller frequent meals may help control large swings in blood sugar levels and decrease hunger, some suggest it may not be the most optimal way of eating for us.

If you’re a conspiracy theorist you’re probably already thinking it’s all just a ploy by the snack food industry to get us eating more frequently, subsequently reaching for their delicious snacks. I’m not saying I agree but how can we dispute that this theory became popular in the 1980’s as the snack food industry exploded in size. Prior to that, in the 1950’s and 1960’s it was normal for people to only eat three meals a day and there really wasn’t much of eating or snacking at your desk or in the car. Perhaps the lower obesity levels in during that era can be a result of these habits.

So, should you kick that diet plan you just paid for to the curb because it tells you to eat five or six meals a day? Not so fast. It may work for you, it may not. Things like this really come down to the individual – what works for others may not work for you and vice versa. Two of my biggest pet peeves are one, people who prescribe cookie cutter diet plans to everyone and two, those who prescribe meal plans because it’s the in thing to do – see gluten free eating for one, but I digress.

If you’re starting a meal plan with whatever goal in mind – losing weight or building muscle, pay attention to how your body reacts to each meal and each individual food item in the meal, including the frequency of your meals. Make notes and don’t be afraid to make adjustments or discuss your findings with you personal trainer or nutritionist. And yes, I wouldn’t be doing myself a service if I also didn’t say if you’re not intolerant to something, research before cutting it out of your diet.

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