Why Eating More Than 4 Times a Day Is A Potential Problem
People tout 4-6 meals daily as essential, but is it?
As different diets, good ones, bad ones, fad diets, etc. come and go, there’s certain features that are included as to the structure of each one. One of these can be meal frequency.
There’s a bunch of different diets out there that claim that one of the best ways to lose weight is to eat sometimes up to SIX times a day. The main reason for this is that it keeps your metabolism active throughout the day, burning at a higher rate and not allowing you to go into “starvation mode.”
I can see the logic with that claim. You burn calories at a faster rate after you eat. It’s described as TEF, or the Thermogenic Effect of Food. However, it doesn’t equate to much. For example, I put in what I usually consume each day and calculated my TEF to be approximately 135 calories per day. That’s 135 additional calories to what I burn to exist and through activity.
That’s not much.
So eating more often may raise that a little. From my research, it seems that what you eat, as in your macros of your protein, carbs and fats, accounted for your TEF amount more than your frequency anyway.
Conversely, your metabolism does slow when you haven’t eaten enough, but that really is only going to happen when you skip meals.
So what are the cons about eating more frequently during the day?
You usually eat more total calories, and you have a larger margin of error while tracking because you have to remember to do so more often.
But what about being hungry? If you eat three meals plus a snack, hunger may not be an issue. But that becomes even easier if you eat more protein and fewer carbohydrates.
It’s rare that I get hungry honestly. I have two real meals, a protein shake and maybe a snack. That’s all, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of what I’m eating that keeps me from getting hungry. Extra protein and lots of fluids.
Another thing to keep in mind is that when you are dehydrated, which happens faster than you may realize, one of the first signs is hunger. You may not actually be hungry, you might be thirsty. Try water first if it isn’t mealtime yet.
There are a lot of things to consider when deciding on meal frequency for your food plan. But in regards to weight loss, the bottom line is still calories versus calories out.
Weight loss only happens if you expend more calories than you take in. Period.
So focus on the things you know how to control, like what you eat and activity to burn it.