How Many Times to Eat in a Day?
Over the past several years, so many diet books and magazine articles recommend eating 5 or 6 small meals spread around the clock to keep the metabolism in high gear. Is this a smart approach for weight loss? More recently, some have been claiming the weight loss benefits of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting means that you eat all your meals in about 6 hours and then don't eat anything for 18 hours (various versions modify these hours). So, for example, you could eat one meal at noon and another one at 6 pm. You would not eat anything more until your next meal until the next day at noon. No breakfast and no snacking. Of course, the conventional wisdom is now that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Perhaps a meal at breakfast and again early afternoon would work better.
A new study of people with diabetes found that people who ate two meals a day lost more weight than people who ate 6 small meals even though the total number of calories was the same. In this study, people ate either 6 small meals or just breakfast and lunch. One concern about this eating schedule is that most people would not be able to give up dinner on a long-term basis. The problem seems to be with "grazing". Grazing may also be bad for controlling blood sugar levels. People who tend to graze would often eat too much each time. Over-eating 6 times a day is a bad situation.
Studies have not shown that eating several small meals and snacks in a day leads to greater weight loss. People who do lose weight in this manner have usually just adopted a new diet which is reducing their total calories and having them focused on weight loss.