The Case for Eating Several Smaller Meals Per Day


Smaller Meals - salmon


Most of us grew up with 3 square meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, the last few years have seen this conventional wisdom being challenged.

There are some folks who suggest spreading total volume of food across 5-6 smaller meals each day. The claims are that it’s a more efficient way of keeping track of total food intake, can help with weight (fat) loss, and is better for your body overall.

So, just how accurate are all of these claims? Let’s have a look at them in a bit more detail.


Claim 1: Regular Meals Increase Metabolism

Perhaps the most popular claim made by the folks who recommend more frequent meals is that because your metabolism increases as a result of eating, by having several smaller meals you’re increasing your metabolism more often. In turn, this is thought to lead to more fat being burned. Although the process of digestion does expend energy, it’s not correct to suggest that by digesting more often, you are expending more energy or increasing metabolism.

The fact is that the amount of energy used to digesting food is directly related to the quantity of food being digested. The net benefit of more regular meals in this instance is little, as the same overall volume of food is being consumed daily, just spread out between more frequent, smaller meals.

The actual claim that frequent eating has an effect on metabolism is highly dubious; there is no science to support the claim.


Claim 2: Eating More Frequently Helps to Maintain Stable Blood Sugar Levels

When considering the actual evidence available, this claim is stopped dead in its tracks.

The theory is that blood sugar levels are maintained through eating meals more regularly seems on the surface to makes sense, but in practice it appears to have little impact on most people. As such, it really can’t be considered to be a benefit of more frequent meals. The claim just isn’t backed up by science.


Claim 3: Eating More Frequently Helps to Control Cravings

This is a considerably more practical claim, one that is often accepted by health experts, and perhaps the only claim with any real validity.

Regardless of the size of meal, it seems there’s always room for a snack or two. This seems to be the case independent of the size of the meal. By eating twice as often, these cravings usually don’t appear generally because there’s just not enough time. It’s often the case that by the time a snack craving comes along it’s time to eat again anyway!

Because of this, having several smaller meals per day can have a big impact on overall calorie intake, and helps keep bad snack decisions at bay.



Increasing daily meal frequency may work for some folks, but it’s not a guaranteed path to fat loss. Are there benefits? For some folks, sure thing. Eating more frequently can be an effective tool to control cravings and overall food volume, and therefore encourage to a better managed diet. Speaking strictly from a purely biological point of view, however, the differences between eating 3 meals a day versus 5-6 per day seems negligible.

At the end of the day, if you find that it works for you, then stick with it. If it doesn’t, don’t stress. Just do what works for you. It’s that simple!


What’s your approach to meal frequency and timing? Let us know in the comments below.

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