3 meal a day V/S 6 meal a day has been on the trend recently in the nutrition domain. Some suggest that we should follow 6 meal a day while some say that go for 3 meal a day. Also, these number of meals are associated with maintaining your health, weight loss and some myths too !! And in this post, I am going to thoroughly discuss all the points of this debate and then give conclusion to help you which ‘number’ of meals you should have.
3 meal a day ?
This practice of three meals a day has been, I think, the most conventional frequency of meal throughout the globe. It includes your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And this “conventional frequency” has some myths against it which prevents people from following this “conventional frequency” !! Here are some of them, I have also given some benefits while busting these myths –
Many people believe that they should eat more frequently, but in lesser quantities, in order to maintain their blood sugar levels. But a study from e-SPEN has concluded that people who have less (3 in this case) but larger meals in a day have lower blood sugar levels (on average). Here is that study!
And if you want to lower your average daily blood sugar levels, then make sure that you are having a heavy (in the sense of calories) breakfast or at least more calories than your remaining meals of the day. Here is a study that proves this statement.
Also according to a study, following this “conventional frequency” has shown to increase the feeling of fullness and decrease appetite in comparison to big “meal frequencies”.
What about 6 meal a day ?
Well, this frequency of meals has been widely used among athletes or people who are involved in heavy physical work every day. And by 6 meals, don’t think that they would eat heavy 6 meals! They eat 6 very light meals ( 300-400 kcal approx.) They also eat the same number of calories as a “3 meal a day” person in a day.
So now let’s explore some popular myths associated with higher meal frequency which make people follow such meal frequencies –
Many people tend to believe that eating more frequently will increase their metabolism which will result in burning more calories. It is true till some extent but not entirely! Here is a statement from one of the articles from Healthline.com which will perfectly blow this myth
“Digesting a meal indeed raises metabolism slightly and this phenomenon is known as the thermic effect of food. However, it is the total amount of food consumed that determines the amount of energy expended during digestion. Eating 3 meals of 800 calories will cause the same thermic effect as eating 6 meals of 400 calories. There is literally no difference.”
This “6 meal a day” has also been associated with weight loss. But let me clear to you that there is simply no correlation between weight loss and the number of meals you have per day. Now, whether it be 3 meals a day or 6 meals a day, or how many times a day. Weight loss is a thing that is independent of your meal frequency. To know in detail about weight loss, click here!
I think by now, you would have guessed the conclusion.
So, let me state this again – Meal frequency does not decide weight loss or weight gain. It depends on other things such as calorie deficit etc. Although there are some minor benefits of lesser meal frequency over higher meal frequency. But, in the bigger picture, there are no major benefits of a particular meal frequency.
So, my suggestion will be that if you are still confused that how often should you eat, just eat your way. What I mean by this is that, eat according to your lifestyle.
Like if you are following a routine in which you work hard physically and require energy more often, then try eating more meals in lesser quantities. Whereas if you are not involved in such physical work, then stick to the conventional 3 meals a day. As there is no harm in either of them.