By now, many of us have heard that eating smaller meals per day (as opposed to three) is much better for our metabolisms and therefore will greatly aid weight loss endeavors. Is eating smaller meals per day just a fad or does it have merit?
Yesterday, the New York Times published an article dispelling the myth that 6 or more small meals a day can aid in weight loss better than 3 meals a day can. According to a British study that consisted of one control group eating 6 small meals a day and one control group eating 3 meals a day, the results were quite similar and weight loss was almost identically the same. Both groups consumed the same amount of calories. The NY Times article also says that other studies have been conducted with similar results. So, according to these studies, it really doesn’t matter if you have 3 meals or 6 small meals a day. It’s all about the calories.
I disagree, somewhat.
It is important to note that even though these scientific studies are not producing dramatic weight loss results from 6 small meals a day, there are some key factors being overlooked.
1.) Eating smaller meals per day helps to stabilize blood sugar, which can cause hunger. Having just a small amount of protein with every ‘mini-meal’ can greatly reduce food cravings that undoubtedly lead to high-caloric cravings.
2.) This study, as well as the others referenced in the article, state that the people in each control group consumed a specific amount of calories. Even if they craved something – they didn’t eat it. In the real world, it’s really hard to stick to an exact number of calories, especially with excessive food cravings. While every weight loss program should consist of a set number of calories to aim for, it may be easier to stick to that goal if your blood sugar and hunger cravings are stabilized. Therefore, 6 smaller mini-meals per day (as long as the caloric intake is still suitable) can certainly aid weight loss, when ‘real world’ situations are taken into consideration, like food cravings.
What do you think? Are you a proponent of 3 meals a day or 6 mini-meals per day?