When it comes to weight loss, you'll often here people touting the benefits of eating 6 meals a day, 10 meals a day, two meals a day - The truth is, meal frequency is completely and utterly irrelevant.
We're just going to leave that there for a bit as it probably goes against everything you've read and believed before.
Ready to continue? Fab! Indeed, meal frequency has absolutely no bearing on your overall body composition. As long as your overall calorie intake is less than your overall calorie expenditure, you WILL lose weight.
However, there may be a frequency that can make a difference to your overall body fat percentage.
To discover what works for you, as it certainly isn't one trick fits all kind of thing, is to consider three things:
Before you prep six meals a day for the rest of the week, take a moment to sit back and really consider when you're at your most ravenous.
Do you have quite a low appetite? Or do you find you have a large appetite able to eat two steaks in one sitting?
These are key things to consider when discovering your optimal meal frequency. Why? If you have a low appetite then you may find eating little and often may garner the best results.
On the other hand, if your appetite is large, then fewer meals a day could do the trick. You could also take a look at eating patterns like intermittent fasting so you're consuming more of your calories in one go.
This will naturally lead onto…
This refers to how satisfied you feel after each meal. If you eat little and often with a large appetite, you'll most likely find yourself really unsatisfied and could be more likely to give into cravings.
Likewise, if you have a small appetite and eat three large meals per day, you'll probably end up overfull and uncomfortable!
Then you have to consider…
OK, so you've established whether you have a large or small appetite, and how often you should eat for most satisfaction, but how do you make it work for your daily life?
At the end of the day, if you work long hours and find yourself on your feet for much of the day, then a higher meal frequency would be pretty unsustainable.
This is why your diet should work around you. Do you work from home? Your flexibility lends itself to higher frequencies
Are you a busy morning person and lazy in the evenings? Intermittent fasting might be the key.
Long hours on your feet? Fewer substantial meals throughout the day may be best.
What does this all mean?
Quite simply, there is no magic number to meal frequency as your optimal amount is unique to your personal situation.
However, if you really have no clue where to start, start small with maybe four meals a day to hep gauge your appetite and satisfaction.
The key thing to remember, though, is to include protein at every meal as it is the most satiating macro and it assists in the growth and recover of muscle.
Example Four Meal Per Day
- 8am - Breakfast
- 12-1pm - Lunch
- 6pm - Dinner
- 9pm - Pre-bed