Debunking A Common Myth About Fat Loss

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Meal Frequency and Fat Loss

I recently posted the article 20 Nutrition Facts that Should Be Common Sense (But Aren’t). It came to my attention that the most perplexing fact for people was that you do not NEED to eat every 2-3 hours during the day.

Yes, that statement is true. You do not NEED to eat every 2-3 hours.

Meal Frequency and Fat Loss are Not Related

We’ve been told time and time again that eating frequently will boost your metabolism and burn fat. But the reality? There is actually no scientific evidence that supports this claim. And I’ve heard is debunked by numerous fitness and nutritional professionals.

That’s not saying you can’t if you want to. If you go by the rule ‘eat when you’re hungry’, and you’re hungry every 3 hours, then by all means, eat. If you have a high metabolism, you probably need to eat more food because you are hungry. This makes sense, right? I think so. But one does not necessarily cause the other.

It makes no difference in terms of fat loss whether you eat more frequently, or whether you eat just 2 or 3 large meals during the day. [1, 2, 3] In fact, some studies have shown that eating less frequently provides greater satiety, causing you to feel hungry less often. [4]

I personally make the choice to eat multiple meals throughout the day because I don’t like to eat really big meals. And, I really like to eat food. Having more meals throughout the day and healthy snacks on hand prevents me from overeating at the end of the day. So for me, it’s a mental thing. It has worked, and I’m gonna stick with it.

Healthy Sloppy Joes

Other Options – Intermittent Fasting

More important than frequency of meals is now late or how early you’re eating – or both. Intermittent fasting is an eating practice where your entire day’s worth of calories is consumed in a condensed period of time. For example, you eating all your meals form 11 AM – 7 PM, and fasting for the remaining 16 hours.

Yes, this means you don’t eat a traditional breakfast. It goes against the grain of all things we think we know about the ‘right’ way to eat. I’ve learned a LOT about this through Chalene Johnson’s podcasts. She has interviewed fitness and nutrition professionals Melissa McAllister and Mark Sisson – both of whom are super fit, and practice this intermittent fasting type of lifestyle. One of my blends, Gigi, does this too! She eats only lunch and dinner, and her meals are impeccably clean.

There is science behind this. One study in mice showed that intermittent fasting had better glucose regulation effects compared to calorie restriction. [5] Another major part of intermittent fasting is its regulation of leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone that when produced, triggers the brain to tell you that you’re full. Grehlin is a hormone that tells you you’re hungry. Both of these will play a roll in your bodies energy production.

I’m going to save detail on this for another day. Hormones and any kind of physiological receptor are SUPER complex and would take a lot of detail to discuss! If you want to read more, I’ll direct you a few articles to dig deeper: What Science Says About Intermittent Fasting, Scientist Sets the Record Straight on Hazards of Sugar, and Intermittent Fasting and Leptin.

With These New Truths – Evaluate Your Lifestyle

At the end of the day I think you should make a decision for YOU on how to eat – not just do something because you’re told it burns more fat. Maybe intermittent fasting will work for you, or maybe the frequent, smaller meals seem to work better.

Intermittent fasting is not for me. I tried it once – and did not enjoy it. I realize that it would become easier with practice, and that there are health benefits. However, it brought me back to a place where I was uber concerned about the number of calories I consumed, and I know that is just not good for me. Maybe I didn’t have an open enough mind about it. Maybe I can try it again some day and have different feelings about it, it’s possible!

I think you need to evaluate how each eating technique makes you feel, and adopt whichever lifestyle is going to allow you the best success in making healthier food choices.

Because the bottom line is – your success in making healthy food choices is non-negotiable. 🙂

Do you practice more frequent meals, or fewer meals throughout the day? Have you ever practiced intermittent fasting?

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