Is it better to eat the standard three meals a day, or perhaps a meal plan with more meals and smaller portions? There has been a lot of research done to figure out the ideal meal plan, but none has confirmed for sure which one is healthier.
Those which support the three-meal option claim that it reduces opportunities to take in foods or beverages with a high amount of calories, such as milkshakes or snacks, and thus this option decreases the average amount of calories consumed daily.
And those which support the multiple-meal plan claim that humans are natural grazers, and that the digestive process burns calories, and thus fewer calories are left to burn in the end.
Therefore, there are conflicting views and there is still a lot of research that needs to be done in the future in order to better assert which plan is better.
But here are a few factors that the reader may want to take into consideration when considering which of the choices would work best:
The primary concern should not be how often one eats or how much (although there are certainly calorie restrictions which one should adhere to), but what one eats.
There’s no point in trying to argue whether eating three times a day or, say, five times a day would be better when the food consumed is unhealthy. Therefore, the rule of quality over quantity applies here.
One issue that could arise with the multiple-meal plan is the concentration of calories included in the meals. If one of the meals involves eating a cheeseburger and milkshake, then that would be a problem, not only because of the number of sugars in the milkshake but because of the overall amount of calories.
So, striving for a balanced diet filled with healthy foods such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. should be the primary focus.
Eating shouldn’t have to be a chore or a let-down. After health, one should make sure that they are enjoying the food that one eats. There are plenty of delicious healthy foods to choose from, and if one is in doubt, he could always try a new (healthy) dish. There are so many options to choose from!
Do you work a 9-to-5 job, Monday through Friday? If so, then the multiple-meal option may not be the best, as it would obviously be difficult to follow if the job only allows a 30- or 60-minute break.
If not, then the level of one’s business would be another important factor. If the amount of time spent eating food is making you feel rushed and therefore making you not enjoy your food, then perhaps the three-meal option would probably work better, since it would involve less time preparing or ordering food.
If you’re the type of person who needs food throughout the day and easily gets hungry, then the multiple-meal plan with smaller portions would probably work better for you, if the three-meal plan would leave you feeling hungry throughout the gaps between the meals. The same goes if you simply don’t prefer large portions.
Have you followed the same eating routine and are trying to change the number of portions you consume throughout the day or the size of portions and are having trouble? If so, then it's probably not even necessary. As mentioned previously, the research has yet to conclude which choice is optimal.
How much or how often one eats depend on the person. Science has yet to determine which of the aforementioned approaches is best for human health.
So for the time being, it’s probably best to know yourself. If you’re splitting your meals by having breakfast, a small lunch, a small dinner with snacks in between and you’re healthy, then that’s good.
The thing to watch out for in this case would be to make sure that you’re consuming the recommended amount of calories on a daily basis for you and whether the food you eat is healthy and balanced.
As was the case with water in the article I wrote last week, “How Much Water Should I Drink?” the same probably goes for food. So long as it doesn’t involve too many calories or food that’s not healthy, it's probably best to just eat when hungry.
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