Does Eating 6 Small Meals A Day Really Boost Metabolism?!
The new fad that has caught on in our present health community, is the idea that eating 6+ small meals a day is a great way to boost metabolism and burn extra calories. Educated and non-educated people alike, will rant and rave about how much better it is to eat more smaller meals.
But is there is any truth to this claim? Does it really matter whether you consume all your calories in 1-3 big meals a day, or from 6+ small meals?
The current research says no, it does not matter.
In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, two groups were separated. One group consumed all their calories from 6 small meals, while another group consumed all their calories in 3 meals. Both groups ate the same amount of calories.
At the end of the 8-week study, both groups had lost similar amounts of weight, had similar appetite control, and showed no difference in fat loss.
In another study conducted at the Maastricht University Medical Center, the subjects were divided into two groups. One group ate 3 large meals, while the other group consumed 14 small meals. Both groups consumed the same amount of calories, with 15% being from protein, 30% from fat, and 55% from carbohydrates.
I am not going to go into the specific details of the study, but the study was meticulously carried out. The meals, exercise type and duration, metabolic tests, etc. were all standardized.
The results of the study showed that, as expected, in the group that ate only 3 meals a day, there was a greater rise and fall of insulin. However, this did not lead to a higher fat oxidation, or a slower metabolism.
With all this being said, I am not against consuming more frequent meals, as long as the reason is not for an increased metabolism.
Most studies conducted on this particular topic show that as long as the calories in versus calories out remains the same, it does not matter how many times a day you eat.
This is where personal experience comes into play. What works best for you? I know that, for myself, if I need a lot of calories for my bodybuilding regimen, it is necessary for me to eat more frequent meals throughout the day. If I don’t, I simply cannot get the calories I need. Thus, I eat 5-6 fairly large meals a day to reach my caloric needs.
If you are trying to maintain weight, or lose weight, do what works best for you. If eating smaller meals throughout the day is easier for you to control your appetite, and not binge-eat, then eat more frequently.
As a personal trainer, many of my clients whose goal was to lose weight, found a lot of success with eating frequent snacks throughout the day. If you are to consume a lot of snacks during the day, make sure that they are high-quality foods.
A lot of the snack/energy bars, are nice ways to say “junk” food. They are loaded with sugar and processed garbage that is not beneficial for weight loss, or general health.
Great snack foods include vegetables, nuts, fruit, and certain health bars.
If you find it easier to simply eat two large meals a day, then only eat two large meals a day.
There are mixed results as to whether eating smaller meals leads to better appetite control, and this has many different factors. Exercising helps with appetite control, as does the type of foods eaten.
If your goal is not to gain weight, make sure to listen to your body. Only eat when you are actually hungry, and you do not have to eat until exasperation every time you sit down for a meal. Limit your portion sizes and increase your fiber intake.
If you are limiting your sugar intake and exercising adequately, then your hunger levels should be where they need to be.
In conclusion, eating more frequently does not lead to a higher metabolism. As long as you are consuming the same amount of calories, it does not really matter how many times you are eating throughout the day.
About Danny Maman My name is Danny Maman. I have a real passion for health and fitness and enjoy having a life that revolves around this. I have my bachelor's degree in exercise science with a minor in allied health. I am also a certified personal trainer with ACE and am a former college basketball player.