Fact Checked

Optimal Meal Frequency – How Many Meals A Day Is Good?

How Many Meals A Day

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30-Second-Summary
  • There may not be any significant benefit between eating fewer or more meals daily.
  • Eating fewer times a day may give more time for digestion and absorption of food. It also allows the burning of some stored fat.
  • You can make a 7-day healthy eating plan to avoid eating many times and reduce cravings and overeating.
  • Studies show that taking food after 3 to 5 hours is ideal for proper food digestion.
  • High blood sugars due to overeating may lead to diabetes and other chronic diseases.
  • Eating after many hours may cause blood sugar imbalance and eventually lead to low blood sugars and low energy levels.

How Many Meals Should You Eat Per Day?

Some experts believe that eating three meals a day is good for you. And you can still maintain a healthy weight and blood sugar levels.

Deciding how many meals a day you should eat is difficult due to so many conflicting points of view.

Others believe that you should eat two meals a day. It will help ensure that your body is never low on energy because of boosted metabolism.

However, recent studies[1] show that the time difference between meals should be between three to five hours. It is because the stomach takes about three to five hours to empty its contents into the intestines after a meal.

Waiting for this long ensures that you have a good appetite before your meal. So, you will feed enough food to sustain the body for another similar period. Still, how many meals a day you should eat may vary for different individuals since energy needs before the next meal matters a lot.

Eating Smaller, More Frequent Meals

Small frequent meals

Theory

Most people believe that eating smaller, more frequent meals will automatically lead to weight loss. However, this is not the case. What determines whether you lose weight or not doesn’t depend on how many meals a day but on the calories, you take daily.

So if you take small frequent meals and someone else takes larger infrequent meals, you both consume the same amount of food. Therefore, you both eat the same amount of calories meaning that the weight gain[2] is the same.

For better results, get a 7-day healthy eating plan. It will help you manage your eating and weight.

Pros

  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals may lead to weight loss when you vary the amount of food you take per interval and consume fewer calories per day.
  • It helps control your blood sugar.
  • It may also reduce your cravings.
  • Smaller frequent meals help to satisfy the appetite.
  • You take in more nutrients to the body throughout the day.
  • Eating meals frequently helps improve your digestion and boosts metabolism in the body.

Cons

  • If you have trouble controlling how many meals a day you should eat, you may overeat.
  • You may feel tired throughout the day.
  • It may make you sleepy.
  • It may cause an energy deficit if you eat fewer calories.
  • You can get anemia if you eat insufficient iron in your infrequent meals.

Eating Larger, Less Frequent Meals

Theory

Many people eat three meals a day. They eat large meals during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Unfortunately, taking your meals the traditional “Three meals a day” doesn’t work for everyone.

Based on health issues, some people develop a 7-day healthy eating plan to maintain energy levels. This pattern is based on habit and may make you have food cravings if your body is not comfortable. It might or might not work for you.

Below are the pros and cons of eating larger, less frequent meals.

Pros

  • It may lead to lower blood glucose levels.
  • It may also help you create a 7-day healthy eating plan schedule to maintain the consistency.
  • Food takes a long to get digested, so you might feel full for a long time.
  • It may help you to balance your blood sugars.

Cons

  • It may cause spikes in blood sugar levels[3] immediately after the meal.
  • You may get a bigger stomach due to eating a lot of food.
  • You may increase in weight since excess fat gets stored in the body.
  • It may also help increase your food cravings.

Is Eating Three Square Meals Better Than Eating Six Smaller Ones?

Three Square Meals
Since the old times, three meals a day is the normal schedule of taking meals. Some testimonials claim that taking many small meals is better than taking three large ones. You can vary small meals to try and reduce the number of calories consumed.

However, people have had mixed opinions on how many meals a day to eat and the best approach to schedule your meals.

Research and many studies haven’t concluded how many meals a day should you eat.

In recent studies, those who eat two meals a day and over had lower body weights than people taking food three times a day. It is despite taking the same amount of calories in a continuous two-week experiment.

Those who ate more than three times were less hungry compared to those who ate three times a day. So, those who are frequently consumed more calories even though they took the same amount of food as those who ate three meals a day. It is because of the continuous addition of calories in the body, even before burning more calories.

Do More Frequent Meals Increase Metabolic Rate?

Taking frequent meals compared to three or two meals a day helps boost your metabolism. It also helps you to lower cravings for food because your body keeps on receiving food after every few hours. When you take meals frequently, your metabolism is higher since your body does not need to conserve energy since you keep on taking food frequently.

When you take food after long intervals, your body reduces the metabolic rate in the body to try and conserve some energy. The longer you stay without a meal, the more your body reduces the metabolic rate. So, develop a 7-day healthy eating plan to guide you are eating habits and prevent cravings.

Therefore, small frequent meals lead to increased metabolism and more energy levels in the body. Still, taking food over short intervals leads to better digestion due to the high metabolic rate in the body. For instance, taking three meals a day makes it easier to absorb nutrients and minerals in the body.

Skipping Meals From Time To Time Has Health Benefits

Before you decide on how many meals a day you need to eat, remember that skipping just a single meal has a large impact on your blood sugar levels because your body has to use the stored energy to continue with normal functions.

However, skipping meals consistently is not good for your health at all. So, make a 7-day healthy eating plan to avoid skipping meals intermittently.

Nonetheless, skipping meals from time to time brings health benefits to your body.

Below are some of the benefits:

  • It affects how certain hormones, cells, and genes function. When you skip a meal or eat two meals a day, your insulin levels lower to try and increase the blood sugar while the human growth hormone is secreted more.
  • Damaged cells get repaired at this time, with gene replication happening during the repair of the cells.
  • It is a good way to help you lose weight since the body depends on the stored energy to function normally when you skip a meal.
  • Skipping meals from time to time reduces insulin resistance, which reduces your chances of getting type 2 Diabetes.
  • By improving blood sugar levels and blood pressure, skipping meals from time to time also helps improve your heart health.
  • Skipping meals from time to time reduces oxidative stress and some chronic diseases.

Balanced Blood Sugar Benefits

Balanced Blood Sugar
Blood Sugar levels are key to the normal functioning of the body. When the blood sugar levels are unstable, you may experience irritability, lack of sleep, or poor sleeping habits. Or you will have anxiety, low energy levels, sugar cravings[4], and diabetes.

Even so, when you keep your blood sugar levels at optimal levels throughout, you will have the following benefits for your body.

  • It helps you avoid chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, loss of vision, and kidney disease.
  • You also avoid insomnia, brain fog, anxiety, excess weight, and more.
  • Balanced blood sugar levels boost mood and energy.
  • It improves your brain health and performance.
  • It may also improve your skin health.
  • It may help increase focus and concentration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Nutritionists advocate a period of 3 to 5 hours apart before you eat.

Eat 3 to 5 hours to allow food digestion and prevent cravings, which may make you overeat. And make a 7-day healthy eating plan.

It’s healthy to eat two meals a day since it may make you fast and burn excess body fat to fill the calorie deficit.

Many studies show no marked difference between eating 3 or 5 meals a day. But five meals may help reduce cravings and overeating.

No. Eating three meals a day allows digestion of food and absorption of nutrients in your body.

Is It Better To Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently?

Eating smaller meals may allow you to vary your diet more, thus helping you get more nutrients from various foods. Healthy foods to eat everyday.

Conclusion

It’s hard to decide how many meals a day should you eat for optimal health. The two approaches present different pros and cons. So, no eating schedule can fit all since people react differently.

Decide on your own, whether it’s two meals a day, though we recommend three to five hours between meals. Remember that don’t overeat to compensate for the time lost before the next meal.

Sometimes, you should eat fast to create a calorie deficit for the liver to burn excess fat. Still, if you experience food cravings, eat three meals a day to avoid overeating.

But if you can hold up and take 3 meals, you will maintain good health if you avoid cravings. Otherwise, determine how many meals a day you need to eat based on your health and energy needs.

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