Your whole life you may have been told that there are three meals you should eat per day: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
No one has ever questioned the reasoning behind this traditional method. Until now…
Scientists and registered dietitians everywhere are finding that three meals a day isn’t exactly the perfect formula for maintaining a healthy weight.
In fact, evidence supports eating more than three meals a day to help you achieve your weight loss goals. It may sound counterproductive but there is evidence to support that six meals a day is more beneficial for your health than your regular schedule. Here’s why:
It keeps your metabolism humming
Metabolism is the process that your body goes through to convert food to energy.
Your metabolism works hard throughout the day, after a meal, during a workout and even while you’re sleeping. There are many different factors that determine the speed of your metabolism like your gender, age and weight.
There are also outside factors that can speed up your metabolism or slow it down. Physical activity is one way to increase the speed that you convert food to energy.
A sedentary lifestyle on the other hand, will keep your metabolism running at a slower pace.
When you eat a meal, you are stimulating the activity in your gut to function. When you eat a large meal, your body will try to convert as much of that food as possible to energy but depending on your metabolism, it may only be able to convert some to energy and the rest moves to storage in your fat cells.
When you eat smaller meals, your body does a better job of utilizing its energy supply. Less food will have to be converted to fat. Although this is generally true, the kinds of foods that you eat also influence how efficiently your metabolism works.
Understanding the fundamental differences between fats, carbohydrates and protein will give you a better idea of how to keep your metabolism up and running.
It controls blood sugars
Blood sugars play an important role in both hunger and your overall health. When you consume a large meal, your blood receives a large surplus of glucose, or sugar.
Your body then has to pump out insulin in order to put that glucose away into cells that need it for energy.
Over time, over-working insulin can decrease its sensitivity to glucose. When your sensitivity decreases, it can potentially lead to type 2 diabetes. When you consume a small meal, your body does a better job of adequately distributing insulin so that all of the glucose can be packaged away without straining your pancreas.
This is why small meals throughout the day has implications on maintaining healthy blood sugars for life.
It staves off hunger and overeating
Have you ever experienced hunger two hours after eating a meal? You’re probably wondering how you’re even hungry again so soon after eating.
The answer also ties into the concept of healthy blood sugars.
As I mentioned before, a large meal will lead to a surplus of glucose in the blood. When those glucose levels begin to drop, chemical signals are delivered to your brain, telling you that you’re hungry again. If you are someone who watches your calorie intake very closely or someone who is always on a “diet”, you may avoid eating because you have consumed your “calorie limit”, despite your body telling you that you’re hungry. This can lead you to become over-hungry and ravenous by your next meal, which can lead to overeating.
Overeating can cause you to feel guilty and ashamed which then fuels the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting. When you begin to recognize and honor your true hunger and satiety cues, you will realize that you are in fact likely eating small meals throughout the day rather than three large ones.
Eating according to your physiological signals of hunger and satiety is called intuitive eating.
Even though intuitive eating does not limit you to any particular number of meals per day, it supports the theory that your body thrives on a constant source of energy to keep it running. When you frequently nourish your body with wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, you will find yourself craving less at the end of the day.
Sound interesting? To learn more about intuitive eating, click here to connect with Expert Bonnie Giller.