Submitted by Stuart Yeatts, General Manager, O2 Fitness Express
How many meals should one eat through out the day to achieve maximum weight loss and overall health benefits? 3 large meals or 5-6 smaller meals? One of the most important keys to building muscle, losing body fat, and feeling energetic throughout the day is controlling your metabolism. Metabolism is the chemical process that the nutrients in your food go through once eaten. Eating smaller, more frequent meals is a sound nutritional strategy that can help you achieve your weight loss goals while increasing your metabolic rate.
Consuming five-six meals every three hours or so evenly throughout the day is much more efficient than eating only two meals equaling the same amount. But what if I am not hungry every three hours? We still need to eat. When we do not consistently feed our bodies, our bodies go into “panic” mode meaning it will hold on to stored body fat. This makes it harder for you to drop those unwanted pounds and tone and firm those trouble areas. So if we feed our bodies on a regular basis then there is no need for it to hold on to the body fat it reserved from “panic” mode.
Now no one is suggesting that you should force down six full course meals in a day. Common sense dictates that eating more often allows you to eat smaller meals; on the whole, your caloric consumption will have increased dramatically, but each meal will be small enough to simply satisfy, not stuff. For most people six meals a day is more practical when you consider prep time, work schedules, food costs and simple eating time.
In the end, increasing the number of meals you consume in a day will allow to manipulate the efficiency of your metabolism; it will give you more energy, allow you to concentrate better and give you more stamina for life. What it will also do, and this is important to the bodybuilder, is allow your body to run on complex carbohydrates, which take longer to process and provide better, longer lasting energy (providing you’ve made smart choices for those meals), leaving virtually all of your protein intake for muscle repair, and in turn enhancing your ability to gain lean muscle mass.