Deeper looks at the past meal frequency studies are finding that there is no proof that eating 6x a day is superior to 3 square meals. It used to be said that eating more frequently helped keep your metabolism up but it turns out this isn't accurate.
This study showed that there was no difference in calorie burning (metabolic rate) 3x a day vs. 6 times a day, BUT get this: desire to eat and perceived huger was GREATER in those eating 6 times a day than the 3 meal per day people.
So basically preoccupation with the desire to eat all day was worse in those eating more often (I don't know about you but that's a major negative to me).
Downsides to eating 6x a day vs 3:
1. You have to eat all day long, which takes time and planning.
2. You can never get busy with something else for long before you have to stop and eat again (plus if that study is correct, you're also spending a lot of your time thinking about when you can eat next).
3. BIGGEST ISSUE: All your “meals” have to be very small in calories - which means that none of them are very satisfying or filling but rather they all feel like “snacks” instead of a real bonafide lunch/dinner and you're hungry again just an hour or two later. When's the last time that carrot sticks wrapped in a lunch meat blanket felt nearly as satisfying as steak with chimichurri sauce and grilled veggies? Or a meal like this:
Why do the meals have to be so small when you eat 6 times a day?
Imagine you eat 1500 calories/day to maintain once you're in week 3 or 4.
Spread that over 6 meals = each meal can only be 250 calories.
Let’s imagine 3 solid meals instead: 300 cals for breakfast, 500 calories for lunch, 700 calories for dinner.
Each of these will make for a substantial very satisfying meal that will keep you full for hours! Which leaves you mentally and emotionally free for other cool things in life during the hours in between those meals.
You may think this is not possible to do without gaining weight, but I think you will be surprised to find it works very well, when done in the macro ratios (how much protein, vegetables and fat is used) that I showed you in our last email (30% protein, 45% fat, 25% carbs).
For instance, here's what Arleen said about how her weight responded to the larger less frequent meals
HOW WE DO MEALS IN P3TOLIFE:
Calories Per Meal: Each days' calories (which remember, changes each week as you slowly titrate up to reach your maintenance level) is divided between 3 main meals, and a very small amount of calories is allocated for a low calorie dessert/snack that can be eaten anytime. If this idea scares you - not snacking so often- think about just giving this a TRIAL. You do not have to commit to doing anything that doesn't end up suiting you (I offer refunds with no time limit)- but if you try it, you just might be surprised at the freedom it gives you and how satisfied you become. Also, you can totally split your portions up and eat half then half a little later if you really prefer to continue eating several times a day.
The majority of the calories though are in the hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner - examples:
A day in Week 1: 250 cals breakfast / 350 cals lunch /450 cals dinner = 1050 cals total.
A day in Week 2: 250 cals breakfast / 450 cals lunch / 550 cals dinner = 1250 cals total.
A day at end of Week 3: 325 cals breakfast / 550 cals lunch / 625 cals dinner = 1500 cals total
Once we're up to 1500 calories we can have some of those really sweet 600-650 calorie meals. If you are not a breakfast eater, the breakfast could easily be eaten for a snack any other time of the day as well.
You don't have to do it exactly like that- here's a sample from 1 day of each week in P3toLife so you can see the flexibility, and how we make room for our dessert treat:
But have you ever had a large "healthy" meal, but still just didn't feel satisfied? And you found yourself continuing to hunt around the kitchen for more tasty/pleasing snacks? Or you find yourself not wanting to eat your plain homecooked food but rather go out to a restaurant where things just seem to taste better?
That's a problem: A full-on meal, even if it has "volume" doesn't feel like one if it's still just a lot of fairly plain chicken and broccoli amiright?
This leads to our final very important strategy for keeping your weight off long term.