Diet InBody Blog News Nutrition

What You Never Knew About Meal Frequency

What You Never Knew About Meal Frequency
Editor’s Observe: This publish was up to date on August 9, 2018, for accuracy and comprehensiveness. It was initially revealed on November 20, 2017.

You know your weight loss plan has rather a lot to do together with your weight and physique composition.

In terms of weight reduction and upkeep, the primary technique individuals use is modifying their consuming patterns.

Most individuals emphasize their meals decisions, and that’s undoubtedly inspired. Watching what you eat is essential.

However meal frequency is one other dietary variable of your consuming sample that always will get missed. Hand-in-hand is meal measurement. How do these qualities of your meals have an effect on your weight?

In athletics, analysis has established timing and portions for meals consumption that maximize efficiency. However individuals simply making an attempt to shed a couple of kilos are sometimes much less positive of easy methods to optimize their meals.

Over 50 years in the past, analysis instructed that consuming smaller meals extra regularly was related to decrease weight, larger metabolism, and higher metabolic well being. Extra lately although, that notion has been underneath scrutiny.

So which is best for weight reduction and your metabolic well being? Small, frequent meals all through the day? Or bigger meals at common occasions?

Earlier than determining find out how to optimize your meals for weight reduction, let’s first take a find out how your physique digests meals, and why their frequency and measurement issues.

Meal Physiology and Why Frequency Issues


Every time you eat a meal, your metabolism, or extra particularly metabolic price, will increase. That’s as a result of all of the processes for digestion and absorption require power and blood circulate.

Since growing your metabolic fee means expending power and producing warmth, this phenomenon known as the ‘thermic effect of food.’

On common, your metabolic fee will increase by 25% after a meal. In fact, that quantity varies with elements like hormone ranges, circadian rhythm, and weight fluctuation.

However a considerable contributor to variation within the thermic impact of meals is the dimensions of the meal. Bigger meals require extra power to energy digestion, in order that they improve metabolic price greater than smaller meals.


When a meal hits your abdomen and intestines, it triggers your digestive tract to launch hormones that have an effect on satiety. Collectively they’re referred to as intestine hormones, however every one has particular actions and results (examples embrace PYY, GLP-1, and GIP).

Intestine hormones matter as a result of they sign your physique to decelerate or cease consuming. It’s no shock, then, that the dimensions of a meal influences the amount of intestine hormones which might be launched.

Your physique releases higher portions of intestine hormones in response to meals with larger caloric density. Since bigger meals are likely to include extra energy, that is one purpose you are feeling extra satiated after bigger meals. Smaller meals are much less satiating, which means you’re more likely to need to eat sooner after that meal.


The interval after a meal throughout digestion and absorption of macronutrients is called the postprandial state. That’s necessary to know as a result of your physique is in ‘storage mode’ within the postprandial state.

Despite the fact that your metabolic price will increase after a meal, the contents of that meal nonetheless get damaged down and, for probably the most half, saved. About 4 hours after a meal, your physique is again to its baseline ‘fasted’ state, throughout which it primarily burns by means of your shops.

By consuming frequent, smaller meals all through the day, you spend a higher portion of the day in a postprandial ‘storage’ state, regardless of a barely elevated metabolic price. As we famous above, you additionally don’t give your physique the prospect to launch a bigger amount of satiating intestine hormones, so you could really feel hungry all through the day.

Hold these factors in thoughts as you learn on about how utilizing meal frequency and measurement as a part of your technique.

Spacing Your Meals For Higher Physique Composition


Keep in mind the 1960’s research that confirmed frequent, smaller meals have been higher for sustaining a decrease weight? It’s time to dispel that widespread perception.

When individuals attempt dropping pounds on a low-calorie weight-reduction plan, they typically assume that spreading their energy all through the day will hold their urge for food down and make it simpler to stay to the weight loss plan.

That’s not essentially true. Preliminary analysis exhibits that excessive consuming frequency (8x/day) leads to extra starvation and want to eat, and fewer fullness than low consuming frequency (3x / day).

Why? The research wasn’t designed to seek out out. However it might have had one thing to do with the variations in how bigger and smaller portions of meals are digested and their results on intestine hormones and satiety.

In any case, that research is just one piece of the puzzle. Urge for food issues, however the end result we’re after is improved physique composition.

In a two month trial, consuming one meal per day resulted in a higher lack of fats mass than consuming three meals per day. Whereas the precise variety of meals per day on this research was totally different than others you’ve examine, this outcome exhibits that consuming fewer meals per day will help you obtain a greater physique composition, particularly within the short-term.


Epidemiological analysis on meal frequency exhibits that extra frequent consuming is related to larger weight.

Since epidemiological knowledge is often observational and picked up on giant teams, it’s not all the time helpful for explaining why issues occur. However, it’s a good way to get an concept of what works typically and what doesn’t.

In a research of just about 20,000 individuals, researchers discovered that women and men have been about 1.5 occasions as more likely to be obese or overweight in the event that they ate 5 or extra occasions per day (in comparison with three or fewer occasions).

Whereas that doesn’t clarify why extra frequent consuming was related to larger weight, it’s essential to notice that this was true even for individuals whose consuming events have been categorised as ‘snacks.’ The high-frequency eaters weren’t all gobbling down 5 full meals a day.

The proof from this sort of analysis turns into a bit stronger when members are adopted over time. That approach, it’s attainable to watch modifications, somewhat than easy associations at a snapshot in time.

In a research that adopted hundreds of males over a decade, researchers discovered that those that ate greater than three meals per day have been about 15% extra more likely to achieve 11 kilos over the last decade.

It’s robust (or unattainable) to inform from these research whether or not consuming fewer meals will immediately result in weight reduction or decreasing probabilities of weight achieve, however you possibly can conclude that individuals who eat much less ceaselessly are likely to hold additional weight off.

Additionally, understand that it’s not the quantity on the size that really issues. Physique composition is way extra essential than weight because it’s attainable to be ‘heavy’ however full of muscle. However, you need to keep away from being ‘skinny fat.’

Medical research are useful for determining whether or not it is best to truly comply with a technique. Hold studying to learn how meal frequency impacts your urge for food and physique composition.


So, why is it that decrease meal frequency appears to be higher for weight and fats loss than consuming all through the day?

The reply has to do with the physiology of your meal consumption. In one other research that discovered consuming twice (somewhat than six occasions) per day is best for weight reduction, the intestine hormone response to decrease meal frequency meant topics have been extra more likely to eat breakfast. Extra on that quickly, however for now simply know that consuming breakfast might assist you to obtain weight and fats loss.

Analysis additionally exhibits that fewer consuming events all through the day end in larger manufacturing of one of many key hormones that improve satiety after a meal, PYY. Greater protein consumption was additionally related to larger satiety. Meaning it must be simpler to stay with a low-calorie weight loss plan in case you eat your allotted energy in just some meals per day. Make sure that to get your protein requirement in too!

Past Meal Frequency


Decrease meal frequency isn’t the one technique you need to contemplate to assist your physique composition objective. You can mix meal frequency with different habits to spice up your possibilities much more.

Many individuals swear by consuming breakfast as a key technique for dropping and sustaining weight reduction.

However what does the science say? In individuals who have some weight to lose, and particularly these people who don’t usually eat breakfast, beginning the time without work with a wholesome meal may also help you shed pounds and reduce compulsive snacking.

Making breakfast a excessive protein meal might additionally contribute to decreasing your fats mass. And there’s new analysis that breakfast might enhance your metabolic well being. However the widespread theme these research share is that getting your energy earlier within the day is greatest for fats loss.


In comparison with meal frequency and distribution methods, calorie restriction and fasting are extra conventional methods of reducing weight and fats. These are necessary methods to concentrate on, particularly as a result of calorie restriction might be mixed with meal frequency.

Whereas calorie restriction (CR) is self-descriptive, intermittent fasting and alternate day fasting aren’t as well-known.

Intermittent fasting includes going for lengthy stretches of the day (and night time) with out consuming, and getting all of your vitamin in a shorter time frame.

Alternating day fasting includes alternating days of consuming usually, and never consuming in any respect.

So which technique is best for you?

To start out with, CR will assist you drop extra pounds and fats in virtually all instances because it induces and power deficit. It’s additionally simpler than intermittent fasting, and never as troublesome to stay with.

Alternate Fasting leads to the identical quantity of weight reduction as CR, so you may attempt both technique. Simply take into account that sticking with Alternate Fasting within the long-term could also be troublesome, because you’re more likely to be hungry on fasting days.


In case you’re making an attempt to shed weight or fats, it may be interesting to go after methods like fasting or adjusting meal frequency. However hold your eye on the prize, and acknowledge that crucial step you possibly can take is a average discount in calorie consumption.

To drop some pounds, you want to be in an power deficit. No quantity of adjusting your meal frequency can change that.

Right here’s some proof to help that: on the identical quantity of power deficit, analysis individuals misplaced the similar quantity of weight and fats on a excessive meal frequency plan as a low-frequency plan.

That’s to not say meal frequency doesn’t matter; it does, as you’ve seen all through this text. Underneath a low-calorie eating regimen, individuals consuming two meals per day misplaced extra weight than these consuming six per day. However with out an power deficit, neither excessive or low-frequency consuming teams shed extra pounds.

Implications Past Weight Loss

As with all routine change or way of life intervention you attempt, there’s a risk of unintended penalties with altering meal frequency to attempt to obtain your physique composition objectives.

Throughout regular circumstances, protein contributes minimally to power manufacturing. However after prolonged durations with out consuming, when carbohydrate and fats shops have been damaged down, protein is damaged down in larger portions to offer power.

Meaning one potential unintended consequence is muscle breakdown with methods like intermittent fasting and alternate fasting. Even with decreasing meal frequency, some analysis finds that two meals per day end in diminished lean physique mass in comparison with six meals per day.

Then again, in resistance educated males, fasting methods like IF might not trigger a lack of muscle mass.

The jury continues to be out as as to if fasting and decreasing meal frequency impression muscle mass. Within the research on resistance educated males who didn’t lose muscle, they consumed substantial portions of protein every day, probably avoiding and muscle mass loss.

Regardless, it’s essential to remember that you would run into unintended penalties with any dietary modifications you make. To keep away from a state of affairs like muscle loss, be sure to plan your dietary technique completely when making modifications. And ensure to include a daily power coaching routine to protect or perhaps even achieve muscle. Power coaching may even improve your metabolism.


Meals have an effect on your physiology, and your food plan has a serious influence in your physique composition. Altering your consuming frequency can have an effect on your capability to succeed in your physique composition objectives since meals have an effect on metabolic price, intestine hormones, and satiety.

At this level, the analysis isn’t definitive about decreasing your meal frequency. However, some promising research recommend it’s a technique that would work. Listed here are a number of key factors:

  • Decrease consuming frequency is related to weight and fats loss.
  • Power deficit (calorie restriction) is important to attaining weight and fats loss.
  • Breakfast is essential in your metabolic well being.
  • Train often to maintain up your metabolic fee, power expenditure, and well being and health degree when you drop a few pounds.

Whereas consuming two meals per day usually looks like the simplest technique for weight and fats loss, it might not be just right for you.

Be sure to mitigate unintended penalties by defining your objectives and planning your dietary technique earlier than you get going. Outline your objectives clearly, write down how you propose to vary your eating regimen, and assess physique composition on a daily schedule to seek out out in case your plan is working.

Keep in mind that there’s no ‘magic pill’ answer to attaining your physique composition objectives. Solely dedication and arduous work will get you there. However should you’re on the lookout for a little bit of a leg up, contemplate maximizing your dietary methods.


Max Gaitán, MEd is an train physiologist and a USA Triathlon Licensed Coach. When he’s not teaching, learning, or writing, Max spends most of his time outside coaching for triathlons.

window.fbAsyncInit = perform()
appId : ”,
autoLogAppEvents : true,
xfbml : true,
model : ‘’

(perform(d, s, id)
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); = id;
js.src = ‘’;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
(doc, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));