Mike Over, Columnist Published 12:22 p.m. ET April 19, 2021
Intermittent fasting, or limiting the number of hours one spends eating, is a growing trend that may have health benefits and aid in weight loss. (Dec. 31) AP Lifestyle
How many meals do we need daily to lose weight?
Getting fitness advice from Instagram and Youtube is not the best solution. So many of us get suckered into the hypes and new trends that one trainer may promote, while another will bash.
You just never know what is right and wrong, especially when it comes to diet. How many times have you heard eating more, smaller and frequent meals is better for fat loss? Or maybe you are set in your ways that 2-3 isthe gold standard and it shouldnt be done any other way.
What gives? Who is right and what should I believe?
Before any of you get upset and begin pulling out your hair, let me tell you that there is no research that backs up the effectiveness of one method over another for weight loss.
What is important, however, are the variables and lifestyle that further make your decision the most rational.
Mike Over(Photo: Submitted)
Lets take, for example, the fact many of you eat more meals because you were told it helps you burn more calories and increase metabolism.
We know the thermic effect of food (TEF) matters, yes. TEF is the rate at which your body metabolizes food. Eating foods with a higher thermic effect (AKA protein, unprocessed foods, etc) will help you burn more calories through digestion.
But there has been no scientific research proven that when compared to eating 2-3 meals, the grazers had more fat loss. Those eating more often do not burn more calories, nor do they lose more fat.
What IS important, is the foods you eat! Not the time at which you do. Protein can have up to a 30% TEF where possibly 30 calories of every 100 are burned just through digestion.
Seeing this, you can now understand how the calories you burn off is directly related to your food choices and total intake.
Even a newer study in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition found that meal frequency has nothing to do with body composition.
One reason WHY some choose to eat more frequent meals may be because they fear eating larger quantities will be harder to digest and make themfeel less full. Some may believe that eating more frequent allows you to keep your muscle tone better.
But what happens to those who eat more frequently and feel more full? Some tend to overeat, and snacks turn into meals. That is why other research has found eating more meals per day doesnt help one feel less full.
As far as muscle retention, there are only two main things that matter: Total calories and protein. We know to add and maintain muscle you need to be eating maintenance or a surplus of calories. A study even compared two groups (one eating 3 meals while the other 6) and found that when calories were equal, it didn't lead to more weight gain or muscle. Even crazier is that the hunger of each group was not different, hinting more so that total calories and protein are vital to satiety and body composition.
So while many of you think that eating more meals is better, you may be actually amping up your metabolism for no reason.
The final piece to debate is how some believe that eating fewer meals could be better for digestion and gut health because you are eating less often. Now, this could be true, but studies on this seem to be murky because they don't take into account those who maybe ate foods earlier in the daythat could affect their gut microbiome, digestibility, or even their predisposed way of eating over the last month. All these can have an effect on how you digest a meal, so saying 3 meals is better for gut health is arbitrary, to say the least.
Bottom line is that regardless of what youve been toldeating 3 vs. 6 meals has no difference. It comes down to your lifestyle, behavior choices and food you choose.
If you hate cooking, then eating many meals may not be the best route because you will find yourself hitting drive-throughs for convenience. On the flip side, if eating a few larger meals turns you into a bottomless pit that you cant control, then sticking to smaller frequent may work better.
Above all, if you find yourself always hungry, take a look at your food choices. Processed foods and those higher in carbs tend to be less satisfying and thermic than their macronutrient friend, protein. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when people ate the same diet except for whole grains versus refined grains, those consuming items like brown rice and whole wheat bread burned almost 100 more calories per day than those who ate the refined versions.
Whateveryou choose, just make sure its sustainable, enjoyable, and you are aware of what and how much you are putting into your mouth.
If you are looking for a way to help get yourself back on track after Covid, I am here. I have personal coaching options, online options and/or ways to train with us FREE in Over-Achieve Fitness. Just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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La Bounty, P.M., Campbell, B.I., Wilson, J.et al.International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: meal frequency.J Int Soc Sports Nutr8,4 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-8-4
Read more from the original source:
A lot of diets focus on meal timing and frequency, but the key to success is pretty basic - Chambersburg Public Opinion