Nutrition Articles

Eat More Often, Lose More Weight

The Benefits of Eating Several Small Meals Each Day


What about weight loss and metabolism benefits? Hand says that research analysts from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have synthesized years of research on adult weight management to form nutrition guidelines. One topic they've analyzed is the effect of regular meal and snack patterns on weight loss. "Several studies show that eating four to five times per day (meals or snacks) is associated with reduced or no obesity risk," she says. The research also shows that the three squares a day could actually hurt your efforts to reach and/or maintain a healthy weight. "Eating less than three meals or snacks per day may increase the risk of obesity," says Hand. "But the risk goes up when people eat six or more times per day, too."

Physiologically, it does make sense: "When you eat regularly throughout the day, your body knows that more food is on the way, and it's more likely to burn the calories you consume than store them as fat," Hand explains. She also says that eating at regular intervals may help stabilize blood sugar and energy levels. But as far as the rest of the health claims are concerned, well-researched proof is lacking. So, while eating more often throughout the day appears to help with weight control, it "could potentially benefit your health, but not necessarily," says Hand.

If five to six meals a day sounds appealing to you, try it. If not, stick with what works for you, but don’t stress. Enjoying three squares a day is a perfectly healthy way to eat, and there are far more important things you can focus on, besides meal frequency: like how much food you’re eating in general. One thing to try, if you don't snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon, is to incorporate small snacks along with your three daily meals—but watch that you don 't exceed your calorie allotment for the day.
Continued ›
‹ Previous Page   Page 2 of 4   Next Page ›

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

More Great Features

About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • My issue is on days when I am of from work. But today I have am tracking everything that I do, eat, drink etc....
    I will also a stay aware and ask myself, "Am I hungry or just bored?" - 3/29/2015 1:00:21 PM
    I eat 6-7 times a day, and I'm losing beautifully. No deprivation or starvation, just moderation and balance.

    A great many Americans eat only 1-2 times a day, but their meals are enormous. I hear them constantly complaining about how they don't eat very much. But it's not that they aren't eating a lot, it's that they are feeling deprived in between their eating. - 9/29/2014 4:14:40 PM
  • Last year on my doctor's advice I tried 6 mini meals (200-300 calories) every 2-3 hours. It went okay, but the biggest drawback was in staying on the schedule. It seemed like when I was late by even 15 minutes, it threw the rest of my schedule into utter chaos.

    I now eat 3 regular meals every day plus a light snack (approx 100 cal) in the early afternoon and evening. Seems to work - never starving & not continuously watching a clock. This plan is helps me be more in tune with my body's hunger signals. - 3/28/2014 2:53:47 PM
  • I have been eating 3 meals and 2 snacks each day --- it seems to be working - 11/4/2013 7:48:50 AM
    I am picky about the food That I am eating, usually I am eating every 3 hours to keep the metabolism up like a machine, I love eat row veggies as snack (carrots, tomatoes, celery) and also I don't include to much starchy carbs in my meals and you know the most reward thing for me is that the.clothes that I wearing fit beautifully on me, I almost in my right weight but it takes time and discipline. - 10/23/2013 12:38:04 PM
  • Weight gain has resulted for a majority of people, already struggling with portion control and food addiction, who try to follow this advice.

    No two people are the same. But O*P*E*N your eyes and look around you. In the States at least, this is bogus diet advice, the latest diet fad.

    Like most people, I tried this advice and gained weight.

    It wasn't until I found, and followed, the No S Diet (thanks to SP for the intro!), that I got my eating under control. Thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU, No S Diet, for a return to eating sanity, commonsense, relearning intuitive eating and relearning moderation, great-grandma's way of eating!, with an end to "diet head", food obsession, food rules, counting, weighing, measuring, tracking, and obsession. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU No S Diet for an end to diet depravity, insanity, and putting food back into it's rightful, SMALL, place in my life. Life is for living; not for following dieting rules and and obsessions with the latest eating fad. - 9/15/2013 9:21:50 PM
    I have three small meals and two snacks spread out about three hours apart. I used to do three meals about five hours apart but found I was getting too hungry, light headed even. Five "meals" definitely works better for me, my next meal is never too far away, my energy levels are more stable, I don't get too hungry, and it encourages me to make the effort to eat regularly, because I know if I have one meal late, all the others will be late too. - 9/14/2013 10:47:14 PM
  • 6 mini meals per day = constant focus on eating and food + never feeling satisfied by a real meal. Mini-meals may work for some, but 3 squares work better for many. Do what works for you, despite the fads. - 9/12/2013 1:00:30 PM
  • I have to eat small meals right now because I can't do know exercise because of my hip. - 7/9/2013 5:24:27 PM
    @ EMCKERN- If you are eating only 955 calories per day, this could be your problem. I've always heard that it is unhealthy to eat less than 1200 calories per day. - 5/28/2013 2:55:08 PM
    I eat small meals and a few snacks daily and I exercise. My problem is that my metabolism is so slow that I have to consume less than 1,000 per day to lose weight. I'm 216 lbs and have had some success when consuming 800-900 calories per day. I try to walk 1-2 miles 2-3 days per week. I'm hoping to add more exercise soon. I've had my thyroid checked several times over the years and have been to an endocrinologist, to no avail. Guess I'm one of the unlucky ones that needs to work a little harder to lose weight.
    A typical diet day for me is as follows:
    Breakfast: Yogurt - 80 calories
    snack: kiwi - 50 calories
    lunch: salad with tomatoes, onions, red peppers, 2 TBS dressing, croutons - 375 cal.
    snack: med. orange - 75 calories
    dinner: grilled chicken breast - 150; steamed broccoli - 75; milk - 150
    Total: 955 calories.
    Straying even a little....say 250 calories will cause a weight gain.
    If anyone out there has similar problem, I would like to hear from them.

    - 5/9/2013 10:52:12 PM
  • Oh yes I need to eat a bunch of mini meals I do a lot more protein works for me - 5/9/2013 7:33:37 PM
  • Wow! Carbs galore! Pre-lunch and you're already at about 100g carbs?? I'd be starving all day. I do eat 4 or 5 times a day, and I find that works for me, but only if I make sure I get a good amount of protein and fat in at every 'meal'. - 5/9/2013 4:41:45 PM
  • I have successfully lost 25 pounds eating small meals more often. That works for me. - 5/9/2013 1:39:18 PM
  • I found that eating small meals did not satisfy the emotional side of eating. I didn't feel like I was eating a meal, especially dinner. - 5/9/2013 1:12:25 PM

x Lose 10 Pounds by May 13! Get a FREE Personalized Plan