Which Is Better: Consuming Many Meals Throughout the Day, or Just Three?

In the past, eating three meals with perhaps a snack or two throughout the day was always thought of as a good, healthy way to eat. But conventional wisdom states that it might be better to eat several small meals during the day instead. 

Ideally, you should eat about every three hours. Be careful that you do not increase your caloric intake simply because you are eating more meals per day. Simply take your normal, healthy caloric allowance, and divide that number by the number of meals that you will be eating daily.

Digestion

The body can better digest and utilize the vitamins and minerals in small meals rather than large ones. You should never consume a volume of food that is larger than the size of your stomach, which is approximately the size of your fist. An average adult’s stomach can hold approximately one quart. It can be stretched and overloaded, but the body cannot digest and utilize the food properly.

Metabolism

The best way to fire up your metabolism is to keep fueling it with a constant stream of food, which is also known as “grazing”.  Eating five to six small meals a day is much better for your metabolism than just three meals per day. 

By eating five or six small, high-quality meals per day, you can kick your metabolism into high gear. This is actually due to the thermic effect of food, which refers to the amount of calories that the body must burn in order to break down food to be used by the body. The more calories used in digestion, the fewer will remain to be potentially stored as excess weight.

Different foods have different thermic effects, ranging anywhere from 3% to 30%. Proteins have the highest thermic effect, while fats and refined carbohydrates are on the lower end of the spectrum. If you eat low-fat, high protein foods, you can make your metabolic furnace burn extremely hot. This means that your body will burn more calories, even when you are at rest. However, you can have too much of a good thing. If you consume too much, even if it is high-quality, protein-rich food, your body cannot utilize it properly. It will be broken down and excreted by the body instead, which is a waste.

Increased Energy

Because your body will become more efficient at burning calories and digesting your food, your energy levels will increase by eating small frequent meals. If you are eating every three hours, you will be less likely to overeat, your food intake will remain relatively constant, and your body will use more of the calories for energy instead of storing it as excess weight.

Summary

If you eat smaller, more frequent meals, you will increase your energy and metabolism, improve your digestion, and your body will better utilize the nutrients from your food. These effects will not only improve your overall health, but will promote weight loss as well.

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