You’ve probably heard the advice that eating small meals throughout the day is how you win the battle of the bulge. The claim is that frequent snacking, as long as it’s healthy, keeps your metabolism humming, staves off hunger, and controls blood sugar.
The end result: You eat less. Except it may not work that way.
A second study found that switching from three daily meals to six did not boost calorie-burning or fat loss. In fact, the researchers concluded, eating six meals a day actually made people want to eat more.
And a research review reached no conclusions about whether meal frequency helps or hurts with weight loss.
So if the number of meals you eat doesn’t make a difference with weight loss, what does?
“As long as you choose good foods and keep portion sizes in check, frequent grazing can help you lose weight and keep cravings at bay.” - Amy Jamieson-Petonic
The Upside of More Than 3 Meals a Day
The longer you wait between meals, the hungrier you get, and then you’re more likely to overeat.
“After about 3 hours without food, blood sugar begins to fall. And after 4 hours, your body has already digested whatever you sent down earlier, ” says Cleveland dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD. “Once you’ve crossed the 5-hour mark, your blood sugar begins to plummet, and you grab whatever you can to refuel.”