THREE SQUARES A DAY, that’s what you were raised on, right? But eating large, well-spaced breakfasts, lunches, and dinners may actually stall your weight loss efforts. Think about the lifestyles of our ancestors. They ate numerous small meals that were high in fiber, low in sugar, and consisted of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and lean game meat. The human body was built for that kind of lifestyle. Mirroring the eating habits of our ancestors will help keep your metabolism engaged, regulate blood sugar, control cravings, and keep hunger at bay.
Eating throughout the day doesn’t mean you get to increase your calories. Your meal sizes will be smaller and your snacks will be more substantial—and you’ll eat more frequently. To keep your energy levels up, eat three balanced meals of around 300 calories each and two to three 200-calorie snacks.
Plan out your meals well in advance—grabbing a candy bar because you forgot to plan your meal won’t cut it.
Keep the Fire Burning
If you have a campfire burning and you don’t add wood to it, it will burn out. But if you add a little wood to the fire every couple of hours, it will keep burning. Your metabolism is the same way. If you wait six, seven, or even eight hours between meals, you put your metabolism in survival mode and much of what you eat will be stored as fat.
When you eat every three to four hours, your metabolism is constantly active, allowing you to burn more calories. That’s why it’s important to never skip breakfast and never go more than three hours without a small meal or hearty snack.
Small Meals = Big Success
If you’re trying to lose weight, switching from three big meals to three smaller meals and two substantial snacks is a great first step in the right direction. But why? Can breaking up your meals really make a big difference? The answer is “yes!”
Here are the top six reasons to switch:
Optimized metabolism: Eating smaller meals and a couple substantial snacks instead of three large meals can increase the body’s thermic effect, resulting in up to 10% more calories being burned. That makes multiple, smaller meals a must for anyone serious about losing weight.
Improved vitamin and mineral uptake: The body can only properly metabolize and absorb a certain amount of food in one sitting. Excess nutrients are simply eliminated and excess carbs are stored as fat. Eating smaller portions more often allows the body to better utilize the nutrients.
Higher energy levels: Frequent small meals and substantial snacks provide your body with nutrition for sustained energy without the risk of “sugar crash” and other fatigue-inducers that come from consuming larger meals.
Better blood sugar management: Eating smaller amounts more often helps reduce insulin spikes and helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day.
Lower risk of overeating: When you eat every three hours, you never have to wait a long time for the next meal, and you’re less likely to binge.
Unplanned food?: No problem. On a typical diet, an unplanned snack or party food can spell disaster. Planning for multiple meals will allow you to avoid the guilt of eating or snacking in moderation.