What’s the right way to eat your calories throughout the day? The prevailing theory in today’s dieting world is that the best eating schedule to lose weight involves consuming food more often, grazing during the day instead of “three square meals” approach. But is this the right method for you? When comparing grazing vs. big meals, the question is whether eating five or six smaller meals or just two or three large ones is a significant one.
While conventional wisdom suggests that eating more often will help burn off calories and control hunger, this may not be true. There are dozens of scientific studies on the benefits of frequent feeding for your metabolism, but the results aren’t conclusive. Instead of following a rote routine, determine what times to eat to lose weight work best for your lifestyle. The calories should remain the same either way. Here are the facts about eating frequency.
When to Eat for Weight Loss
You burn calories every time you eat food as your digestive system breaks down your food. Converting food into energy requires energy itself, but there is usually excess, which can be made into adipose tissue or eventually eliminated. Carbohydrates, fat, and protein require different amounts of energy to burn, with protein the most metabolically active.
The big myth about snacking vs. meals and calorie burn is that eating more often throughout the day would expend more energy, which is not true. Your body and your mitochondria don’t care when you eat, just what you eat. Eating more frequently doesn’t increase your weight loss.
If you’re on a 1500-calorie diet, you can spread it out into three 500 calorie meals or 10 150 calorie meals. The when is irrelevant, but the composition is what matters for your weight loss and health goals.
What’s the Time to Eat to Lose Weight?
While there may be no additional benefit to grazing vs. big meals, that doesn’t mean it’s not the right choice for you. Plan your meals around what your schedule and your appetite allow for. If you only have a few breaks during the day at work, you may find that you need to stick to fewer meals per day. However, some people get hungry frequently and can’t wait for a big meal, so snacking throughout the day is the better choice for them.
Health issues may also help determine when to eat for weight loss. Those with hypoglycemia and diabetes need to regulate their blood sugar with food, so smaller meals are often the right decision. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or acid reflux, you may need to space out your meals to allow your digestive system to settle. There’s no definitive choice between snacking vs. meals; it’s about what works for you.
If you need help planning your diet or weight loss plan, contact a consultant at Diet Doc. They’ll create an individualized plan for your needs that is suited to your lifestyle and nutrition goals.