Posted on May 11th, 2012 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.
Eating more often, say 6 meals instead of 3, does NOT increase how many calories your body will burn in a day. Therefore you will NOT lose more weight by eating more often! If you eat 1,500 calories a day, it does NOT matter, when it comes to losing weight, if you eat frequently, say 5 or 6 times a day, or infrequently, say 2 or 3 times a day. It just does NOT matter! I really can’t make this any clearer.
I really can’t believe I feel the need to bring this subject up as I thought this long-time myth had finally been eradicated. But, some recent comments by clients, family members, and some exercise and nutrition “experts” have clearly demonstrated that this stupid-ass myth is still prevalent.
I give a pass to my clients as they are not suppose to be experts on the subject and their view of the subject usually originated from some expert they worked with or read. However, it is the “experts” who give out this information that need to be held accountable. They should know better, and deserve a nice slap to the back of the head. I think if they would actually read some of the research on the subject (I will get to that in a minute) then they would realize that they are making a foolish statement when they say “eating more meals a day speeds up your metabolism and makes you lose more weight”.
It is “experts” (I am using the term very loosely) like Katrina Hodgson and Karena Dawn who wrote the Tone It Up Diet Plan and Fat Burning System who say a number of silly things, such as “It’s crucial that you get healthy fuel early in the day to kick start your metabolism…” (p.18) and “You will be eating five meals a day. No skipping meals! Skipping meals will lower your metabolism and your body will use your muscle as fuel, not your fat stores.” (p.7), give me a break. Do they give any quality evidence for their assertion? Of course not. There is not a single reference in their entire e-book. But, hey they look good, so they must know what they are talking about (was my sarcasm too subtle?). Sorry for the digression, but it is this type of bullshit, put out by people that should know better, that leads to the rampant confusion for laypeople, i.e., my clients.
I am not going to go into the details on meal frequency and weight management. The reason is a number of other people have already done a good job of covering this topic, so I will strongly suggest that you go read their stuff, HERE and HERE. Also, Anthony Coplo covers this subject well in his Fat Loss Bible book.
For those of you interested, and especially for those “experts” that keep this myth alive, I will be listing a few of the key papers on this topic (the articles I referred to earlier also listed many of the important research articles in their work). I want to have a place that lists the key information, so I can send people, especially those “experts” that keep saying silly shit, to.
Bellisle, R.et al (1997). Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutrition
Stone, K. et al (2007). A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without calorie restriction in healthy,normal weight, middle-aged adults. Am J Clinical Nutrition
Farshchi,H. et al (2007). Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogensis, insulin sensitivity, and fasting lipid profiles in healthy obese women. Am J Clinical Nutrition
Mattson, M. (2005). Energy intake, meal frequency, and health: A neurobiological perspective. Annu Review of Nutrition
Tai, M.et al (1991). Meal size and frequency; effect on the thermic effect of food. Am J Clinical Nutrition
Taylor, MA & Garrow, JS (2001). Compared with nibb;ling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients in a chamber calorimeter. Inter J Obesity
Leidy, H. & Campbell, W. (2011). The effect of eating frequency on appetite control and food intake: Brief synopsis of controlled feeding studies. J Nutrition
To conclude, and to make it as clear as possible, eating many times a day will NOT speed up your metabolism and will NOT make you lose weight if you eat the same amount of calories for the day. If I am wrong then show me the evidence.