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Does Eating 6 Meals a Day REALLY Lead to Weight Loss?

September 26, 2011

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight it’s likely you’ve heard the concept of eating smaller, more frequent meals to aid in weight loss. Why? The theory behind the concept is that eating smaller portions more often can help curb hunger, maintain blood sugar, and jumpstart your metabolism. And although these potential benefits are obtainable through the 6 meals-a-day method research has shown most often than not there is no advantage when compared to your standard 3 square meals in regards to losing weight.

BUT , there are some exceptions. While studies have shown most don’t see greater weight loss with increased meals there are certain individuals that could benefit from this method. To see which category you fall in read below.

WHEN IT CAN WORK

Eating 6 small meals each day is no easy task. With our busy schedules and lifestyles, it seems hard enough to get in 3 meals before the end of the day. But, with some planning and a stick-to-it attitude it is an attainable goal. Be sure to organize and prepare your 6 mini-meals the day before to avoid making last-minute meal choices that offer convenience (and typically more calories) but little nutrition.

This method tends to work best with those who incorporate an exercise routine into their daily schedule as well. That’s because eating a mini-meal pre and post-exercise can help you fuel up and recover before and after exercise. Having a routine exercise program also allows you to burn additional calories aiding in the weight loss process.

The most important part in making the 6 mini-meals each day work for you is being able to control your portion sizes. This is also why for so many, it DOESN’T work. With more meals comes the opportunity to consume more food but the goal of your mini-meals is to keep them just that, MINI. So be sure to keep your meals smaller (approximately half the size) than if you were eating 3 meals per day.

WHEN IT CAN’T WORK

As mentioned above, if keeping portion sizes in check is a problem for you, 6 meals a day is not a good option. If having the “green light” to eat more often seems like too much temptation to have unhealthy, high calorie snack foods then by all means, don’t try it.

Additionally, if more frequent meal times seems like a chore and is also too difficult to fit into your schedule, this is also another valid reason to just stick to your 3 meals per day.

THE BOTTOM LINE ON WEIGHT LOSS

Weight loss, whether with 3 meals or 6 mini-meals, is still dependent on your total number of calories consumed. It’s still all about calories in vs. calories out and you can achieve this with 3, 4, 5, or 6 meals a day.

Instead of focusing on how many meals you should consume focus on eating nutrient-dense foods that offer lots of nutrition (fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, etc.) and try not to go longer than 4-5 hours without something to eat. Adding a 30-60 minute daily exercise routine will help tremendously as well.

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