Are you one of those who get so conscious when it comes to the number of meal you consume in a day? Perhaps this is one of the most common worries of men and women. After all, a person’s weight definitely affects the way he perceives himself with utmost confidence. From the moment you get out of your steel garage door in Arizona up to the entrance door of the event venue, a person would think nothing but how he looks like. To track your weight gain, you should know how many times you have to eat in a day.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard that you need to eat 6 smaller meals a day. Or that you need to eat every 2-3 hours exactly. Or that eating smaller meals more frequently is better than eating larger meals less frequently.
Now raise your hand if you’ve heard that the #1 reason for eating like this is because it will “speed up your metabolism” and therefore improve your ability to lose fat, build muscle, prevent fat gain, and more.
The funny thing is… it’s all bullshit!
And that’s scientifically proven bullshit, I might add.
Virtually every single person in the nutrition field has at some point suggested that eating 6 smaller meals a day (with a frequency of every 2-3 hours) was more beneficial than eating 3 larger meals a day (with an obviously lesser frequency).
Hell, articles I’ve written prior to 2007 may still contain such recommendations. (Updating them is on my to-do list.)
The thought was that since the process of digestion burns calories (aka the Thermic Effect Of Food), we would burn MORE calories by eating MORE often. We’d “increase our metabolism” and all sorts of wonderful things would happen as a result.
Unfortunately, NONE of it turned out to be true.
Numerous studies have been done over the last few years looking specifically at meal frequency and its effects on metabolic rate, weight loss, and other similar areas.
In every case, the conclusion is always the same: there is no significant difference whatsoever in terms of “speeding up your metabolism” or any similar meal frequency voodoo.
Whether you eat 6 smaller meals a day, 3 bigger meals a day, every 3 hours exactly, more frequently, less frequently… none of it makes any difference in the end.
As long as your total daily calorie and nutrient intake remains what it needs to be, the manner in which you consume those calories/nutrients just doesn’t matter.
Want proof? Alright…
One study took 2 groups of overweight people and had each person create the same sized caloric deficit and then consume that same calorie intake every day for 8 weeks.
HOWEVER, they had one group eat 3 meals a day, and the other group eat 6 meals a day.
The result? They all lost the exact same amount of weight in the end.
In fact, the study showed that there was no difference at all in fat loss, appetite control, or anything similar. Metabolisms didn’t speed up or slow down. Meal frequency just didn’t matter.
The only thing that does matter is eating the right total amount of calories each day and getting those calories from an ideal amount of protein, fat and carbs.
How many meals you eat a day, how frequently you eat them, and how big or small they are just doesn’t matter. It’s what you eat, not how you eat it.
So, how many meals should I eat a day?
Now that you know there are no magical benefits to eating 6 smaller, more frequent meals a day, you’re probably wondering how many meals you should actually eat.
Well, the general answer is that anywhere between 3-6 meals a day (hell, even 2-7) is a fine workable option for most people.
But the more specific answer is exactly what I told you at the beginning of this article: whatever will make you most likely to consistently stick to your diet… THAT’S how you should eat!