If you have spent any time at all investigating the weight-loss literature, you will undoubtedly have seen the maxim that eating every two hours is the only way to lose weight. This has become such widely-repeated dogma that it is now often accepted as fact. But is it true? Can manipulation of meal frequency be the key to sustainable fat loss?
The argument behind 5-6 small meals a day is simple, apparently logical, and has been shown to be effective for many people. Basically it goes like this. If you eat smaller meals more often, you are fueling your metabolism and causing your body to work more efficiently burning fuel and therefore fat.
There are several points that are worth examining here. Firstly, the idea that eating more often somehow increases metabolism. There is very little scientific evidence to support this. In fact, a couple of recent studies have shown just the opposite. That is, reducing frequency and actually introducing a period of daily fasting can increase base metabolic rate (the number tof calories that you burn at rest).
Secondly, it is difficult to get your body to burn fat when it is constantly being supplied with nutrients every couple of hours. It is far more logical to stretch out the space between eating in order to tap into the stored fuel reserves in your body Defenders of frequent eating will usually point out here that if not eating regularly will make the body go into starvation mode and terrible things will happen!
Oh, really? What exactly? The body will consider itself as being on the point of starvation and will desperately hold onto body-fat. If that were true, you would be in big trouble every time you miss breakfast ! Science shows that starvation mode is something that happens after days of extremely limited calorie intake.
However, the best reason for avoiding eating 6 meals a day is not physical, but psychological. Simply put, it is unpleasant eating less that you would like all the time and this is the principal reason for non-compliance on diets. Far better to eat fewer meals over a shorter period of time and get the benefits of eating until you are full and burning fat on a daily cycle.
So before jumping on the bandwagon and eating six small meals daily which will be extremely difficult to follow for any length of time and leave you feeling hungry, consider that they may actually be a better way to manipulate your eating habits and create sustainable fat-loss without suffering.