If you’ve grown up in a conventional household, then you more than likely are used to eating three square meals a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. No snacks in between lest you spoil your appetite for meal time. In all probability, you have also learned about the food pyramid and have been taught that to stay healthy and maintain your ideal weight, you have to eat your food portions according to their percentages in the pyramid.
Fast forward to today. Do a basic internet search and you’d find differing opinions about the whole thing. Debates have actually been raging for years about whether those 3 meals are better than say, eating 5 or more daily. But what gives?
What They All Agree On
While meal frequency arguments are plenty, there is one aspect of it that all experts agree on. That is- breakfast is important.
The whole thing about breakfast being the most important meal of the day? Nutrition experts totally agree with your mothers on that. The complex carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats you get from the meal just some time after waking up can rev up your metabolism. So, yes, it can give you the fuel you need for your active day.
The problem, however, is even when the experts agree, they disagree. Breakfast is important, but just how much should you be consuming at that time? And how does that define when your next meal should be?
The Mini Meal Argument
Enter the argument for “mini meals.” Or as weight loss and nutrition experts will helpfully explain, start your day with breakfast. But not a hearty one. Instead, opt for smaller portions and then eat every 3 or 4 hours for the duration of the day. That would mean eating 5 or so small meals instead of the usual 3 big ones.
Because eating small meals throughout the day can,
- lower cholesterol
- promote weight loss
- improve energy levels
- boost metabolism
- preserve lean muscle mass
A 2001 study published in The British Medical Journal actually indicated that people who followed the mini meals plan had 5% lower average cholesterol than people who ate 1-2 larger meals.
Even the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics agree. Years of adult weight management research showed that eating 5 times per day, whether they are actual meals or little snacks, is associated with reduced or no obesity risk. In comparison, eating 3 square meals a day or less may increase the risk of obesity. Of course, the risk also went up in people who ate more than 6 times per day.
What does that mean? That 5 small meals throughout the day looks like the ideal diet solution to losing weight and keeping yourself healthier.
How Eating More Makes You Lose More
Anyone trying to lose weight should be happy to hear that, right? Imagine eating more but actually losing more weight, too. But how does that work?
As experts explain it, eating regularly throughout the day signals the body that more food is on the way. This makes the body start burning the calories instead of storing them as fat. At the same time, the regular time intervals between the smaller meals help stabilize blood sugar and energy levels.
So if you’re having some weight control trouble and limiting food intake to three large meals a day sounds restrictive ad unappealing to you, try the 5 mini meals a day plan. It can potentially help your cause more than anything else you’ve tried.