There’s a lot of debate on how many meals should be eaten during the day. Some say that many small meals will keep your metabolism rate up, while some say fasting lowers your calorie intact. All I know is how my body reacts to both. What I find is the right balance is four meals a day and there’s a few reasons why.
Four Meals A Day
I’m a strong believer in that you should eat something in the morning. Even if it’s small, the body needs to have fuel since you just woke up and shifted your body into overdrive. You may not feel an energy low right away, but it will surface at some time in the day and the last thing you want is that starving feeling where you make bad food choices. My usual breakfast at home is a bowl of cereal but you can eat whatever appeals to you as long as it’s not filled with unhealthy fats or sugars.
My next meal is at lunch between 11:00-11:30. Eating a little earlier solves a couple issues. The first being is that I’m not straining to make it to 12:00. What happens if I do wait that long is that I overeat because I’m so hungry. The last thing I want is to get filled up on a big meal only to get sleepy at my desk afterwards. I usually have something that’s not going to fill me up like a salad or soup. Eating a small meal also ensures that my stomach is not going to get stretched out. The larger your stomach is, the more food it takes to make it feel filled up. Consistent meals also ensure that my metabolism doesn’t start slowing down. This is the body’s natural reaction if it’s not getting food in a timely manner. Studies have shown that if the metabolism slows down, the rate that calories burn will decrease. If you think not eating is a great way to lose weight, it may reduce calories, but fasting is a shock to your system. You may see a temporary loss of weight but most likely this weight will come back. You need to reduce your calories at a gradual rate.
My next meal comes between 2:00-3:00. Again, it’s nothing big. I will sometimes make a sandwich or finish some leftovers from the previous night. This helps in that it gives me more energy to finish my day. If I don’t eat something around this time, I either start snacking on unhealthy food because my stomach is growling, which makes the day go even longer. It also means that I’m not starving when I get home. If this happens, I’ll again start seeking out anything that’s easy to provide quick relief. The final benefit is that I’m not eating a ton of food for dinner. Instead, I’ll serve myself a reasonable portion and not eat it in a rush. As many of you know, the more you eat at the end of the day, the more likely the body will store it as fat. This system also helps when you’re eating dinner out in that you’re not sitting at the restaurant waiting for the basket of bread to come out. You also don’t look like you’re starving in front of friends when it does arrive. Even better is that if you’re having a drink beforehand, you have a little food in your stomach to soak up the alcohol. I love food, so the best part is that I get to eat four times a day!
Don’t be Caught Starving While Driving
Another system I use to ensure I’m not starving between meals is that I always keep some trail mix or nutrition bars in my car. If I feel like my stomach is growling and I won’t be able to make it until dinner, I’ll grab a handful so that it settles my stomach a little bit until I’m home. In the summer time, I have to make sure I buy mixes that don’t have chocolate, so it doesn’t melt in my car. I will say that I do have to refrain from eating snacks in the car too often. Sometimes on a long drive you get bored and munching on something breaks up the monotony. It’s only when my stomach starts to growl that I reach for a quick bite. Either way, it’s better than driving on empty stomach and letting my metabolism slow down. I will say that when I snack all day, sometimes I feel constantly hungry, so I avoid eating more than four meals a day since it seems to be the right balance.