This is an insightful explanation I found for the benefits of eating small, frequent meals throughout the day. This is a concept I learned and adopted early on in losing weight and it is the ONLY thing that makes me feel great, have energy all day, and manage my weight without feeling deprived at all.
This girl (ME) LOVES to eat. I grew up in a big family where everything centered around food, and every woman in my life could cook like nobody’s business. So telling me I can’t eat on a “diet” is worse than pointing a spray bottle full of water at my freshly flat ironed naturally curly hair 😉
Yes, you have to watch portions and make good choices. But if I am on schedule with eating, not only does my body signal when it’s hungry, I don’t overeat and rarely have cravings I can’t control.
The original train of thought was that more frequent eating boosted the metabolism by providing an energy source at regular intervals during the day. Skipping a meal sends the body into a preservation mode that slows down burning the excess fat stores of the body. A frequent energy source (in the form of multiple small meals) requires the body to rev up to process the foods using a process called the thermic effect of food. The thermic effect of food refers to the body’s expenditure of energy to chew, swallow and process foods. Proteins require the most work to break down and fats burn the least amount of energy. The body’s processes are kept at a more even keel, without the blood sugar spikes associated with hunger. This balance equalizes the body and allows for consistent efficient function for everything, including metabolism.By choosing to have five to six small meals each day, you’re teaching your body to never be hungry. You won’t have the blood sugar swings caused by hunger, nor will you experience the cravings that can derail even the most carefully planned diet. Eating more frequent meals also spaces out caloric intake over the course of the day. Eating more frequent meals requires more discipline than consuming three regular meals each day. You must carefully control portions to prevent overeating and space meal intake at even intervals throughout the day to avoid snacking. Some individuals find that using smaller plates and keeping a concise food journal helps monitor the foods eaten throughout the day.
Portion Control and Balanced Diet
Weight loss with any dieting or plan will never happen without portion control. Overeating at three meals each day often places people in the obese category. Overeating at five to six meals will create a dieter’s worst nightmare. Your aim is to split calorie consumption evenly throughout the day. Meals should be well thought out and balanced with adequate amounts of nutrients. Throw out the sodas and chips. Include a mix of proteins, carbohydrates and fat with every meal. For example, instead of consuming an entire turkey sandwich on wheat for lunch, only eat half and include a favorite fruit. Save the other half of the sandwich for your next meal three hours later, incorporating another snack-type food with this meal. Some good choices are cottage cheese, applesauce or some crunchy vegetables such as carrots or celery.
Choosing to consume three large meals a day in favor of more frequent smaller meals doesn’t eliminate the need for snacks. Snacks have a different meaning using this meal plan. Snacks should ultimately be a healthy combination of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Snacks aren’t a single item when eating smaller meals. Instead, a snack should be a combination of two to three healthy foods in moderate portions that will fill your up for the next three hours. For example, a healthy snack might include a bowl of oatmeal and an apple. Pair healthy foods like whole-wheat crackers with applesauce, and fruits and vegetables with nuts and seeds for proteins.