How Many Meals Do You Need to Eat to Keep Your Metabolism High?
If you haven’t already heard of the term “thermic effect of food”, it is basically the amount of energy needed by your body to digest the food you eat. This has lead to a lot of people to assume that you need to eat more often in order to keep your metabolism high. But multiple studies have been shown that a high meal frequency (more than 3 meals per day) does not actually increase one’s metabolic rate or amount of calories burned.
Researchers actually found that after 36 hours of fasting, an increase in one’s metabolic rate occurs. It was also discovered that that even alternate day fasting (not eating every other day) did not seem to lower one’s metabolic rate even after 22 days. What seems to be most consistently associated with a reduced thermic effect of food is irregular and inconsistent eating times, regardless of the frequency of meal consumption.
So in a nutshell…don’t sweat the small stuff! There’s no need to over obsess with minutia details such as meal frequency. You should instead look at your nutrition plan from a macro point of view, where total daily calories are prioritized as most important. So structure your meals around a schedule that satisfies your preference and meshes into your lifestyle!
We’ve made it easier for you and included a few key indicators for which type of eating plan might work best for you:
You Should Eat Multiple Small Meals (more frequently)
You have trouble getting in your daily total calories (small appetite).
You feel hungry every few hours.
You have a lack of energy/focus if you haven’t eaten in a few hours.
You prefer eating smaller meals/snacks.
You Should Eat A Few Big Meals (less frequent)
You have trouble staying under your daily total calories (large appetite).
You feel fine going through a couple hours in the day where you don’t eat.
You have a busy work/school schedule that keeps you busy for most of the day.
You prefer eating larger meals (more satiating).
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