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'Ideal' meal frequency - How many meals should you eat per day? - Group talk, wk commencing 12/07/21

I am often asked how regularly we should eat to support our journeys aiding our weight loss and is there ideal timings to assist this.

*How many meals should you eat a day? (3?, 6?)

*How often should you be eating? (Frequently? infrequently? every 3 hours exactly?)

*What size should each meal be? (Big?, Small?)

*When and at what times should you eat those meals? (Early?, Late?)

*Are there certain times you must avoid eating and certain times you must eat? (Night?, Breakfast?)

There are lots of confusing advice about the 'ideal' meal frequency.

According to many experts, eating breakfast starts fat burning and 5-6 meals per day prevents your metabolism from slowing down.

But studies actually show mixed results and it is not clear that more frequent meals helps you lose weight.

How many meals should you be eating and the relevance between frequency and general health.

Do more frequent meals increase our metabolic rate?

The idea of eating smaller more frequent meals increases our metabolic rates is a myth.

It is true that digesting a meal raises our metabolism slightly and this is known as the thermic effect of food. However it is the total amount of food eaten that determines the amount of energy disbursed during digestion.

Eating 3 meals of 400 calories will cause the same thermic effect as eating 6 meals of 200 calories so no difference.

Does eating more frequently balance blood sugar levels and reduce cravings?

Eating big meals is thought to lead to rapid highs and lows in blood sugars, while eating smaller and more frequent meals should stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the day.

This however, is not supported by science. Studies show that people who eat fewer, larger meals have lower blood glucose levels on average. They may have bigger spikes but over all their levels are much lower.

Less frequent eating has also been shown to improve satiety (fullness) and reduce hunger compared to eating more frequently.

When it comes to blood sugar control, breakfast seems to play a role. Studies show that eating the largest meal of the day in the morning, or early in the day, lowers average blood sugar levels.

To eat breakfast, or not to eat breakfast?

'Breakfast is the most important meal of the day...' or is it?

We already know that breakfast doesn't kick start our metabolism rate for the day.

However studies show that breakfast skippers are more likely to be obese than breakfast eaters.

But there is no connection between the two just that breakfast skippers are more likely to opt for the doughnut at work or swap a healthy lunch for a fast food option.

Eating breakfast is a healthy habit overall.

We know it lowers our average daily blood sugars.

A study in people with type 2 diabetes found that fasting until noon increased the rise in blood sugars after lunch and dinner. So it is medically advised to have a healthy breakfast when worried about blood sugars.

But there is no advice when to have breakfast in healthy people just make sure you eat healthily the rest of the day.

Bottom Line

There is no health benefits for eating more often. It doesn't increase calories burned, it doesn't aid weight loss, it doesn't improve blood sugars, if anything eating fewer meals is healthier.

So I am going to propose a revolutionary idea for timing your meals:

  1. Eat when hunger.

  2. Stop when full.

  3. Repeat indefinitely


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