How many times a day do you need to eat?
It is believed that the processes of "distillation of food into fat" depend on the time of its intake - they say that any calories burn in the morning, and after six in the evening even low-calorie salad goes straight to fat. Based on this rule, refusal of breakfast “breaks the metabolism” and is equated with the main violation of the diet - although this is the basis for the method of interval fasting .
It is also interesting that most materials on weight loss are advised to eat food at least 4-5 times a day, assuring that without observing this basic rule it is impossible to lose weight. At the same time, the diet of "ordinary" people - that is, eating 3 times a day - is automatically recognized as erroneous both for losing weight and for gaining muscle mass.
How often do you need to eat to lose weight?
Scientific studies show that both for losing weight and maintaining weight, it is important, first of all, the total calorie intake per day , and not the frequency of meals (1) . In fact, if you start eating 5 times a day, then you can eat almost twice as much as with 3 meals a day. Ultimately, the key role is played by the portion size and what kind of food you eat.
For example, carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (primarily sugar, sweets, pastries and white flour products) quickly increase blood glucose levels - however, a decrease in this level after a few hours leads to a feeling of weakness, which many take for hunger. This is what makes a person striving to lose weight look for a “sweet” snack again and again.
How much do you need to eat at a time and per day?
If you want to lose weight, then for the day you need to eat a total of about 1800-2000 calories - which is quite realistic with three meals a day and a serving size of 600-700 calories. Ideally, each meal should consist of 20-25 g of fat (30% calories), 30 g of protein and 70-80 g of the right carbohydrates. FitSeven wrote more about dietary norms for weight loss in a special material.
However, physically active men will need at least 2700-2900 kcal per day to gain muscle mass - in this case, it is really better to take food 5-6 times a day, and not try to fit calories into three meals. At the same time, at least half of the calories should be for breakfast and lunch, and most carbohydrates - for food immediately after strength training.
What time do you need to eat?
Despite popular belief, there is no scientific evidence that morning meals in any way affect metabolic rate. Simply put, a hearty breakfast does not speed up the metabolism and does not help to lose weight - just like refusing breakfast does not slow down the metabolism. It is also important that many studies say the exact opposite.
The diet, called " interval fasting 16/8, " implies a regular refusal of breakfast and allows meals only from noon to 8 pm. In fact, with such a diet, the body fasts for 16 hours every day - however, the result is not a slowdown in metabolism, but its acceleration, helping fast weight loss.
Frequency of meals and hunger
Most people who want to lose weight most often cannot control their hunger - and the solution to this problem is far from trying to calculate how many times a day you need to eat. Very often, overweight is associated with regular consumption of fast carbohydrates , which provoke a set of fat on the stomach and cause a sharp feeling of hunger.
Moreover, even a complete refusal of food can really have a noticeable effect on human metabolism only three days later (3) after the start of a hunger strike. In other words, if you have a severe hunger within 2-3 hours after eating, then you most likely eat too many fast carbohydrates in the form of bread and sugar , while neglecting fiber in the form of vegetables.
Why does eating 5 times a day help you lose weight?
Despite the fact that science cannot recommend the exact number of meals per day that are healthy or for weight loss, in most cases, “fractional” meals in small portions (that is, 5 times a day) really helps to lose weight. However, the real reason lies only in the fact that such a diet makes you closely monitor the diet.
In simple terms, a typical fast food meal contains up to 700-900 kcal, which does not fit the logic of a “small portion” - just like a pizza in front of a TV or half a chocolate cake over a cup of tea after a hearty dinner. If it’s really easier for you to eat 5-7 times a day and control calories in this way - this can definitely help to lose weight.
How many hours after sports can I eat?
If you are engaged in fitness or other types of sports activities for weight loss, then the role is played not by how many hours after training you can eat - the presence or absence of food in the stomach before the training is much more important. Within 3-4 hours after eating, the body will not spend fat reserves at all, but the calories of just eaten food.
That is why for weight loss it is recommended to exercise either on an empty stomach, or at least 3 hours after the last meal - this will reduce blood glucose levels and activate fat burning processes. At the same time, the best cardio for weight loss will be a 30-50 minute session of moderate exercise with a heart rate of not more than 150 beats per minute.
Scientific studies suggest that the frequency of food intake does not affect the human metabolism, does not accelerate or slow it down. In fact, with three meals a day, you can lose weight without problems, and with five meals a day, gain weight (which bodybuilders successfully do). Much more important is not how often (or at what time) you eat, but what exactly is included in each meal.
- Meal frequency and energy balance, source
- The causal role of breakfast in energy balance and health: a randomized controlled trial in lean adults, source