How many meals is too many, or even too less?
Experts argue that eating up to 10 meals per day — contrary to the modern culture’s preaching of splitting one’s diet into breakfast, lunch, and dinner — might be more suitable for those who want to better their health.
People who have stomach issues like heartburn, gastroparesis, bloating or fullness can reduce these symptoms by eating more times a day but in smaller doses, Mississippi nutritionist Lindsey DeSoto says.
Smaller portion sizes when eating six to 10 meals help a person’s digestion because there isn’t that much for the stomach to break down after each small meal consumed throughout the day.
In turn, a person who is aiming to lose a couple of pounds could benefit from eating six or more meals a day — to which DeSoto made the point that calories and portion sizes will play a major role.
“For example, if you need 1,800 calories to maintain your weight and choose to eat six small meals daily, each meal should be around 300 calories,” DeSoto said. “Be sure to stay within your allotted daily calorie needs and divide them among the number of meals you consume.”
“Small, frequent meals often come in the form of ultra-processed foods and snacks that fall short in many vital nutrients your body needs. Thus, it is essential to focus on the quality of the foods you consume,” she continued.
Though, this isn’t all to say that eating three times a day is awful, as DeSoto mentioned this can be fine when wanting to strengthen the body’s metabolism.
Metabolism is a natural chemical reaction in the body that converts food into energy, helping the body eliminate the feeling of a person being starved.
The total number of meals a person consumes could also be linked to their risk for disease, according to a 2019 NIH report.
The research “demonstrated a significant increase in disease risk” if a person consumed 6 or more meals per day, compared to someone who ate only one to two meals a day.
Overall, solid evidence as to whether a healthier lifestyle is linked to eating more or less is neutral, but both choices reap benefits to a person’s health when following their patterns.