Aside from the question "will eating eggs increase my cholesterol", this has got to be the question that I get asked most frequently! I bet you're reading this and wondering the same thing. There are SO many different opinions out there and before I begin I want to remind you, finding the eating pattern that works best for YOU is the most important, regardless of what we discuss in this post!
When most people start a new eating pattern, 9 times out of 10 they begin with the standard 3 meals and 2 snacks or 3 meals and 3 snacks - why? Because this is what is preached to us in the diet world. However, this pattern of eating is not proven to be the most effective. Research actually continues to show that there is NO DIFFERENCE between the metabolism of someone eating 6 meals a day versus 3 meals a day, given that they both consume the same number of calories over the 24-hour period.
So why did we get so hooked on this "6 meals a day to stoke my metabolic fire" thing? So many of my clients have heard before "if you don't eat every 2-3 hours, your body goes into starvation mode and you begin to store your food as fat instead of using it for energy"... let me assure you - this will NOT happen in such a short window of time.
Simple answer as to why this became so popular? Nutrition dogma and myths that just won't die.
Let me tell you what I see working for many of my clients (and for myself): eating 3 meals per day with 1 snack inserted where needed (morning, afternoon or evening) seems to work the best in terms of compliance (I hate using this word) and reducing the likelihood of over consuming food (or calories) in general.
The reality is, every time we eat we have the opportunity to over consume food - especially if we feel in a semi-hungry state consistently throughout the day. If we are given the opportunity to eat until we feel truly satisfied (which typically happens when we consume larger meals less frequently) then we are much less likely to over consume calories.
Often times when people change their eating plan they tell me that all they think about all day long is food... "how long until the next meal/snack" ... "should I pack 2 meals with me while I run my afternoon errands incase I am gone for 5 hours" ... "should I set an alarm in my phone so that I know exactly when I should eat".
Even writing these thoughts out make me feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
This has been a fairly recent change to my own eating style, but I find it to be the most helpful when I eat 3 bigger meals throughout the day. This allows me to feel that "full" and "satisfied" sensation rather than feeling like I have simply just eaten enough to stop my stomach from growling. I also find it gives me more freedom around food - I am not constantly thinking about my next meal because I have 5-6 hours before my body is going to tell me that I am hungry again.
This may sound dramatic you guys - but this is LIBERATING! Especially for those of us who have been in the "diet" and "restriction" mindset for so long!
That being said, I still have many clients who feel GREAT eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks. But if you're constantly feeling like food is ruling your day and you just can't seem to get satisfied, it may be worth changing things up!
What I challenge you to do this week is this: Instead of consuming multiple small meals throughout the day - switch over to larger meals and one snack and see how you feel! You may just find that this simple tweak is a game changer for you!
I would be interested to try the three meals and one snack a day plan. I have been doing the 3 small meals and 3 snacks and have been successful. But slowly starting to feel like I am craving more especially in the morning starving after breakfast. Would love to know how many calories to consume per meal etc or portion sizes etc. Love your posts by the way 😀
Hi Kim! Thanks so much for reading! If 3 small meals and 3 snacks is working for you - keep it the same!! I recommend changing only when you feel like you're never really truly satisfied after a meal or you find yourself thinking about food all of the time! If you're finding just the morning difficult, I would recommend bumping up your breakfast by combining your morning snack with your breakfast to see how you feel - you may have to bump it up a little bit more from there based on what time you're working out, Kim! Let me know how you make out 🙂