Your typical three square meals a day has long been considered the normal eating routine for many. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. But, in the dieting world this routine has been replaced with what many consider the optimal meal plan of 6 smaller meals per day.
By eating smaller meals more often, many believe that you can effectively fight off hunger pains, thus, making it easier to lose weight.
Makes sense right?
Not so fast! A study out of Purdue University has shown that eating 6 small meals per day was no more effective at reducing hunger pains than your typical 3 meals per day.
3 Meals vs 6 Mini Meals
The study took twenty seven overweight men and put them on a low calorie diet plan for 12 weeks. They were asked to eat the same diet as three meals or six meals a day for three days starting at week seven, and then they switched to the other routine for three more days. During this time they were asked to record their feelings of hunger every hour that they were awake.
Those who ate six meals a day showed no improvement in appetite control than those who ate three meals a day. The study also showed that those who had a higher protein diet felt more satisfied than those who had a normal protein intake.
What Works Best For You
What it all comes down to is what works best for you! Some people don’t have the time or means to eat 6 times per day while others don’t have time to sit down and eat three big meals so they eat 6 smaller meals on the go. Some find if they don’t eat frequently that they starve while others feel more satisfied eating larger meals less frequently.
Those who like to snack often may find it easier to go the 6 or more mini meals a day route consisting of a light breakfast, lunch and dinner with three healthy snacks. Conversely, those who don’t feel the need or have the time to snack may be fine with 3 square meals a day.
Basically, it’s personal preference. Find out what works best for your situation and stick with it. Just as long as you don’t exceed your caloric limit at the end of the day.
Control Appetite No Matter How Many Meals You Eat
Whether you eat 3 meals a day or 6…or even 8 micro meals, whatever your preference is, it’s important to include a lean protein and fiber source at every meal. This will help you feel fuller longer and may even stabilize blood sugar. Plus, you get the added weight loss benefit of protein’s thermogenic effect, which means it burns more calories through digestion than fat or carbs. If you find it hard to get enough protein in your diet then check out our Optimum Nutrition whey protein review!
So, what do you think? How many meals a day do you prefer to eat when dieting?