How many times a day should you eat to lose weight? The popular response to that answer is six times a day-and the old-fashioned response is three times a day.
For the past several years some diet authors and experts have claimed eating six times a day revs up your metabolism and keeps you from being full. For example, Jorge Cruise suggests eating every three hours in “The 3-Hour Diet.” And Jenny Craig uses the model of three small meals and three snacks.
In theory, the argument for eating six mini meals a day may seem logical. You burn some energy by eating, so, in theory, eating throughout the day will somehow speed up your metabolism.
But in reality, there are many pitfalls to frequent eating. And eating too often may result in weight gain for many people.
Here are some points to ponder when it comes to how many times a day you should eat to lose weight. And, by the way, for most people, the magic number of times you should eat each day to lose weight is not 6, not 5, not four, but three times a day. They used to call it breakfast, lunch and dinner!
No. 1: Why eating six times a day doesn’t work: You may end up even hungrier than if you ate three times a day. I remember years ago being on Jenny Craig with a friend. We used to commiserate about our insane hunger after eating one of our six small meals/snacks such as a Jenny Craig lemon cake. Since that time, Jenny Craig has adopted a Volumetrics approach which may ease hunger for many clients.
No. 2: Why eating six times a day doesn’t work: You aren’t giving your body a chance to burn fat after it’s freed up from the chore of digestion. Dr. Abravanel, the author of the “Body Type Diet,” says your body needs a chance to rebalance with intervals between meals.
No. 3: Why eating six times a day doesn’t work: You probably won’t stick to the low calorie amounts allotted for each of the six mini meals or maxi snacks, as some people call them. Eventually you will find yourself at a restaurant with so many spooky restaurant diet killers, which may cost you twice the number of calories you planned for that meal if not more. Or your least favorite food pusher may convince you to eat a seventh or eighth time that day!
No. 4: Why eating six times a day doesn’t work: Your meal probably won’t be nutritionally balanced. If you are given, say, 250 calories per meal and you eat six times a day, that’s 1,500 calories. It’s unlikely you will provide yourself with adequate protein, a healthy amount of fat and complex carbohydrates needed. Researchers now are saying a moderate fat diet is better for long term weight loss – which would make low calorie counts nearly impossible for each of the six “meals.”
If you do get hungry between meals, the best approach is to pick a food that, frankly, you probably don’t really crave or want – but that will quickly and efficiently zap your appetite.
Dr. Abravanel, author of “Body Type Diet,” suggests eating three times a day, but when you can’t wait until the next meal, here are the snacks for each body type recommended by Dr. Abravanel:
No. 1: Best snack for Gonadal or G-Type Body Type (also called pear shaped): small piece of fruit
No. 2: Best snack for Adrenal or A-Type Body Type: no snack or, if you must, soup, half carton of yogurt or half glass of skim milk.
No. 3: Best snack for Thyroid or T-Type Body Type: Half hard-boiled egg, an ounce or two of chicken or turkey.
No. 4: Best snack for Pituitary Type or P-Type Body Type: cooked meat
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