6 Reasons Why You Should Have Small, Frequent Meals

Published: 17th April 2009
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Copyright (c) 2009 Stephen Smith

Many people believe that having 5 or 6 small meals a day will make them put on weight but in actual fact it will help them lose weight!

Most people eat three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. The problem with only having three meals a day, or even fewer meals, is that there is a large gap (greater than 3 hours) between meals. This large gap between meals results in a substantial decrease in the body's blood glucose level. This causes the body to invoke its 'Anti-Starvation Response'.

Consuming 5 or 6 small meals a day is enormously beneficial from a weight loss point of view and cannot be over-emphasised. It keeps your body's metabolism elevated, which means you burn up more calories and therefore more fat during the day.

Having 5 or 6 small meals a day (ideally every 2-3 hours) means your body is constantly supplied with the energy it requires to function, as well as the amino acids it needs to maintain and build body tissues.

The feeling of hunger is also dramatically reduced, as is the tendency to over-eat at each meal. People who only eat three or fewer meals a day have a greater tendency to over-eat at each meal because they feel hungrier than people who tend to 'graze' (eat more often) throughout the day.

This tendency to over-eat is even more pronounced in people who skip meals to lose weight. Skipping meals results in uncontrollable urges to binge eat, especially during the evening - the worst time of the day to be consuming a large amount of food.

Following is a summary of the advantages of consuming 5 or 6 meals a day:

Increased metabolic rate.

This increase in metabolism occurs because the body is being constantly supplied with energy (food) every few hours. Through the process of digestion, the body is forced to expend more energy.

Also, since the blood glucose level remains more stable, the body's metabolism doesn't have to slow down as it would if only three meals were consumed.

Positive nitrogen balance.

Nitrogen balance is a measurement of how much nitrogen is lost (through sweat and urine) against how much nitrogen (from protein) is gained through dietary intake (food). Nitrogen balance determines whether the body is breaking down body tissue (negative nitrogen balance) or building up body tissue (positive nitrogen balance).

Ideally it is best to keep your body in a positive nitrogen balance at all times. Maintaining or building tissue (particularly muscle) means your body's metabolism will remain elevated, making it easier to burn off body fat and lose weight.

Having protein in each of the 5 or 6 small meals a day means there is a constant supply of tissue-building amino acids to assist in the maintenance and building of lean body tissue, which includes muscle.

When you eat only three meals a day your body will be in a negative nitrogen balance at some times during the day because of the delay between meals, even if you eat protein at each of these meals.

Reduced hunger.

Feelings of hunger are reduced when there is a constant supply of glucose to the brain. This can be easily achieved by consuming 5 or 6 small meals a day and by ensuring there is a slow influx of glucose into the bloodstream.

Sustained energy.

By having 5 or 6 small meals a day there is a constant supply of glucose in the bloodstream, sustaining energy levels. This is in direct contrast to having three meals a day, which results in large fluctuations in blood glucose and therefore, energy levels as well.

Reduced fat storage.

Another reason why having 5 or 6 small meals a day is so effective for losing weight is because smaller meals don't affect the blood glucose level and in turn, insulin levels, as dramatically as three larger meals do. A lower insulin level means there is less opportunity to convert carbohydrate into fat.

Eating more frequently also means the body is constantly using up energy digesting food. This is why eating breakfast is so important - it gives your metabolism a 'kick-start'. If breakfast is skipped, your metabolism and therefore your body's fat-burning ability stays sluggish until your first meal.

Increased fat mobilisation.

Your body's tendency to mobilise fat for fuel increases with smaller and more regular meals. This is mainly due to the fact that insulin levels are low. A low blood insulin level means more fat can be mobilised from the body's fat stores.

On the other hand, a high level of insulin inhibits the mobilisation of fat for fuel and larger meals tend to promote the release of greater amounts of insulin from the pancreas.

So become a grazer and watch the weight fall off your body!


To receive your FREE weight-loss e-book titled, 'How To Lose All The Weight You Want In The Next 90 Days!' click here Stephen Smith is the part-owner of Body Concepts, an Australian supplement company, and Focus On, a health and lifestyle magazine. Stephen has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 18 years and has a science degree from UWA. His website is: Quick Weight Loss Principles

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