Is Eating “6 Small Meals a Day to Keep Your Metabolism Going” a Myth?

There are so many studies that tell us to eat regularly throughout the day to keep our metabolisms going. It seems that many of us these days are afraid of ever going hungry.

Small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism going

Many nutritionists and dieticians believe that eating smaller, frequent meals throughout the day is the best way for your body to keep its metabolism firing. One of my fave publications The Daily Mail has an article on this where they speak to nutritionist Antony Haynes who speaks about what the typical Briton eats in a day. I love reading other people’s food diaries, especially ones from overseas. It’s interesting to see the differing products and types of foods.

What a typical Briton eats: no time for a proper meal

The article says that a typical Briton might not manage 3 square meals a day, but is more likely to eat 6 smaller meals a day:

  • Breakfast: a bowl of cereal, eaten at home
  • Snack: croissant and a banana, eaten at your desk
  • Lunch: jacket potato, also eaten at your desk
  • 3pm snack: chocolate bar
  • Dinner: too tired to cook, so this person ate a bowl of soup or cereal
  • 10pm: toasted cheese sandwich, then off to bed

There, don’t you just love that? I mean, who eats a jacket potato and at their desk no less? That’s awesome. However, despite this list of food being indented to demonstrate poor eating habits, I think that really it doesn’t look too bad. Each of the ‘meals’ clocks in at about 250 – 350 calories, making a total of about 1500 to 2100 calories in total. That’s perfectly fine and is the window for most non-active men and women.

Graze though the day to lose weight

‘Grazing was the way our body was designed to eat,’ says nutritionist Antony Haynes. ‘Large meals burden the digestive system, often causing bloating and lowered energy while the body struggles to digest them. ‘By eating smaller meals you prevent this, and the body functions more efficiently throughout the day.’ When we eat a big meal, the sugar level in our blood rises, but once that meal is digested that blood sugar level falls, taking your energy and mood with it.

OK I do not agree. Snacking was my downfall

Yes, you heard me right. I, like most people, have been sold the line most of my adult life that it was essential to snack. That we must make sure that we keep our metabolisms going. We must make sure that we are never hungry. I don’t think this was a good way for me to think. I now try to focus on 3 square meals a day. I still snack, but I make sure my snacks are very, very light. By light, I mean less than 100 calories, so really just a taste of something to tide me over. I often have a spoon of peanut butter or a cup of miso soup. Here are some great vegan snack ideas for you for under 100 calories.

Don’t skip meals

Focusing on feeding myself 3 meals a day has been really helpful to me, although I admit that it might not suit anyone. Another thing I do is make sure that I don’t skip meals. I try to eat something resembling a 400 calorie meal complete with essential ingredients 3 times a day. I like to eat this sitting at a table or at a spot I have picked such as under a tree in the sun.

New studies show amount of food is important, not frequency

There have been a spate of new studies that seem to agree with me stating that: “results suggest that amount of food eaten, but not the pattern with which it is ingested, has a major influence on energy balance during mild food restriction.“

You need to listen to YOUR body – not to my opinion!

therapeutic hunger book cover

 

So, it seems that the best thing to do is to listen to your own body. One of my favourite books has been written by a fellow WordPress blogger, Avnish. The book Therapeutic Hunger goes into natural methods to control your hunger responses and how to listen to your body the easy, natural way. You can order it online through Amazon or read about the program on my blog here.

10 Comments

  • Reblogged this on bhardwazbhardwaz and commented:
    Good idea to eat in smaller quanties, as long as you stay in control and only eat what you need and when you need to eat.

  • Bar Science says:

    I think that whether small meals lead to faster metabolism depends on the individual. Because the studies imply conflicting conclusions I have to believe that there are some variables that the studies may not be taking into consideration.

  • I think you have it spot on when you say listen to your body. For many eating small meals often will be perfect, for others they will just overeat by doing this. I tend to stick to my diet best when I have 4 meals , possibly with a piece of fruit to keep me going if I need it.

    • alycevayle says:

      Hiya Sume-

      Yes, you are just like me. If I focus on eating too often, I get confused. I aim for three good meals and a snack or two if I’m hungry. But I snack on peanut butter and miso soup. A bit weird!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • archecotech says:

    Personally I’ve found since living in Russia, portions are an important factor. But some things I’ve learned about eating habits has been a real eye opener. We don’t eat peanut butter, very little corn, very few people drink sodas. I’ve noticed people keep their diets fairly simple here, but eating of foods that contain fat is high. The interesting part is the fat hasn’t meant gaining weight, go figure. I’ve lost over 30 lbs this last year and having been eating more then ever. I contribute part of this to the fact we eat lots of grains here. One of them that I’ve come to love is Millet and the other is Buckwheat. Both of which I don’t ever remember eating as a breakfast food in the states. They fill you up and keep the insides moving. So I would explore doing a post on the advantages of eating a high grain diet. When I lived in the states I would always recommend a high grain diet but honestly didn’t live the lifestyle, now that I have I can really see a difference. I guess I could state that I managed a nutritional store for several years, so it’s not thought I’m talking out of the left side of my mouth. One final thought we don’t eat a lot of highly processed foods here either.

    • alycevayle says:

      Great point, Arch!

      I agree with you about wholegrains. Buckwheat is an awesome siurce of nutrition and very filling. There was a time when I ate the most enormous portions of brown rice and steel-cut oats and this did not make me gain weight.

      I have ALWAYS wanted to travel to Russia. I will get there one day.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Alyce

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