When you eat more frequent, smaller meals, you may find it easier to manage your weight and energy levels. Breaking your food intake up into six meals a day isn’t difficult as long as you plan things ahead and make sure you meet your nutritional needs. Eating six meals a day may improve appetite control and blood sugar levels. In the study, half of the 47 participants who were obese and suffering from diabetes or prediabetes followed a special diet for six months that had them eat six smaller meals per day for three months and transitioned to three standard-sized meals a day for another three months. The other half of the participants started with the three standard-sized meals for three months and switched to six small meals per day for the last three months. The six-meal diet group had significantly better blood sugar control compared to those eating three meals per day. Therefore, frequent, small meals consisting of roughly the same number of calories consumed at regular intervals may help you be more successful at dieting. More research is needed to confirm these findings, though. You never hit that starving feeling where you eat anything and everything just to fill your belly.
Dear Doctors: I’ve been hearing that eating six small meals per day instead of three large ones is better for your health and even helps with weight loss. When I try it, though, I wind up feeling hungry all day. Are six meals really better than three?
I grew up with a less is more mentality, as in the less often you eat, the less you’ll weigh. As a body-conscious teenager, that translated into me ignoring my hunger pangs until well past lunchtime. When I finally caved to the call of my angry stomach, I’d end up practically shoveling food into my mouth. I may have been eating only one meal a day, but that meal was a giant one. Fortunately, I grew up. I went through therapy, went vegetarian, and became a mom. I started eating breakfast with my daughter before I put her on the school bus, had lunch at my desk, and ate dinner with my family. I thought I had gotten into a pretty good rhythm, but recently I noticed a shift. As I’d gotten swamped by deadlines and found myself working longer and longer hours, I was once again forgetting to eat until my stomach starting screaming at me to eat something—anything!
The other half of the participants started with the three standard-sized meals for three months and switched to six small meals per day for the last three months. Not only will it fill you up, but it will also get your metabolism kicking. In fact, I sometimes woke up feeling too full for breakfast, which presented me with a conflict: Forcing myself to eat didn’t seem like a good idea, but if I didn’t have something early it would be hard to fit in six mini-meals without having my last one right at bedtime. After meeting with a nutritionist, she switched to consuming smaller, healthier meals six times a day. Meal prep is an important part of successful weight loss and body building. I was a lot less hungry.