Does Eating More Often in Smaller Amounts Help You Lose Weight?

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Much like the BS pseudoscience behind drinking tons of water, the rumors about losing weight from eating more small meals through the day instead of your three regular meals is also a load of tofu. It’s not based on proven research. The truth about your meal frequency boils down to simple nutritional math “The thermic effect of food is directly proportional to caloric intake and the foods you eat, and if caloric intake and food choice is the same at the end of the day, there will be no metabolic difference between eating six meals or three.” (1)

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This is another classic example of wishful thinking getting in the way of actual nutritional science. It’s one of those “tips” you often come across in many health/diet/fitness articles that offer cheap, quick ways to lose weight. While I enjoy the thought of such ideas being true the sad fact is that I cannot make them true. All I can do is remember the cold hard truth; only hard work, diet and exercise, can make you lose weight naturally. Your meal frequency has little to do with it.

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This is not to say you couldn’t use a little tweaking in your eating schedule to help you along the way while you work towards your health goals. Eating a meal for breakfast in the morning, for example, has proven to be a good start to the day since it gets your metabolism going and gives you energy. (2) Another example would be how eating late at night right before bed is not good for weight loss since your metabolism slows down while you sleep and you often feel less hungry in the morning when you need to eat a good breakfast. Be careful though, that second one boarders very close to our original point in the article; calories can’t tell time. (3)

In the end what matters is what you eat, not how often you eat it. Cutting an apple in half and eating it in two meals won’t make a difference compared to eating it as one. Maybe someday, probably when we are discovering perpetual motion and turning iron into gold. Until then, just stick to 3-5 healthy meals a day with good exercise and you will be just fine. 🙂