3 vs. 6 Meals a Day: Disproving the Myths

Will eating more often make your metabolism burn more calories and help you lose weight? Nutritionist's feedback on a new study may surprise you.

By Reader's Digest Editors

Some dieters believe the key to weight loss is eating three meals a day without any snacks in between. Others think six smaller meals eaten throughout the day stabilize hunger and blood sugar. Who is right?

According to a new study published in the journal Obesity, researchers found that eating six meals a day does not control hunger any better than eating three meals. And as for claims that eating smaller meals throughout the day keeps metabolism active all day long, studies published by The British Journal of Nutrition found it was the number of calories consumed that mattered most, not the frequency of meals.

If you want to lose weight, nutritionists recommended eating foods that are rich in protein and fiber. These foods take longer to digest, which keeps you feeling full longer.

But as to whether you should eat three times a day or six, there’s no hard and fast rule.  Some people like to eat frequent smaller meals and some like to eat larger meals. Both approaches can work. In the end, nutritionists say that the quality and quantity of your calories is what counts, not how often you dine.

See also:
8 Kitchen Makeovers for Weight Loss
12 Ways to Jump-Start Your Metabolism

Sources: NYTimes.com, WEBmd.com

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  • Your Comments

    • Gaia1332

      Both ways can work. I think it depends on the person. The more times per day you eat the more chance you have to overeat. I prefer to eat 3-4x’s a day. About every 4-5 hours. I have used both ways and they both work. If you eat fruits/veggies and protein at every meal you will lose weight! Its not rocket science!

    • sam

      what if u have only one or two meals a day? is that likely to help with weightloss?

    • Anonymous

      I totally agree with you that protein and fiber foods are really the best helpful stuff to lose weight. And these one really keeps us feeling full longer. We should less eat carbohydrate. The regarding information is truly looking just most extensive about it. Thanks for sharing some mind blowing information about it.

      Pharmacy Online

    • Hal1986

      you are so stupid…the biggest the meal the bigger the insulin spike is …that result in more body fat….smaller meals eqals less insuline spike…so that proves clearly that more small meals helps u burn more fan and keep you healthier

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Hartman/100000702512197 Steve Hartman

        wrongo, hal. an insulin spike doesn’t equate to fat. If your overall calories are in check and carbs too, you can have an insulin spike all day long and not gain fat. you wont’ be burning fat (impossible in the presence of high insulin) but you won’t necessarily be gaining any fat at all unless you repeatedly eat over maintenance. Insulin shuttles carbs and protein into the cells but if you’re a low carber (for example) and have just worked out, your glycogen depleted and the muscles are just waiting for carbs and protein.
        Hopefully, in the last 2 years, you’ve managed to get a little smarter.

      • Emotional?

        Hal,
        I know you posted this 2 years ago, but I wonder what you think now? There is very little dispute between scientists that the main factor to weight loss, weight gain and maintenance has to do with calories consumed versus calories burned.