Ask the expert: Should I eat three large meals a day or several smaller meals?
Healthy U reader, Joe Connor from Strathpine asked "Is
there any advantage to eating regular small meals during the day
(e.g. five to six meals) versus three main meals per day for
weight loss. Even if total kilojoule intake is the
Diabetes Queensland's newest Dietitian Alison Bennett
What a great question Joe! Some health professionals recommend
eating several small meals a day to help in weight loss, the idea
is that feeding your body regularly keeps your metabolism pumping
and helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels and your hunger
levels. Others recommend three meals a day is a better way to
control how much you eat, suggesting that if people are given the
opportunity to six meals a day they are more likely to overeat.
Unfortunately, despite a lot of research on the subject the jury
is still out on which is the best option. A number of studies have
compared the effect of feeding individuals the same amount of food
in three meals or in six meals and have found no significant
difference in weight loss (or weight gain). Interestingly, one
study showed that people eating six small meals a day were more
likely to feel hungry throughout the day than those who ate three
I believe that it comes down to the types of foods you are
eating and the amount of kilojoules that you are eating over the
entire day rather than how often you are eating. At the end of the
day, weight loss will occur if the amount of kilojoules you are
eating is less than the amount of kilojoules that you burn
throughout the day. So if you find that you prefer to eat six small
meals a day, go for it. But if you find that eating lots of small
meals means that you're more likely to eat more than you really
need then maybe sticking to three meals a day is a better choice
If you are looking for ways to boost your metabolism and fast
track your weight loss I can let you in on a little secret; the
only sure way to increase your metabolism is to get active!
Diabetes Queensland recommends that all Queenslanders are
physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. If you can
manage it, being active for 60 minutes will do even more to kick
start your metabolism and support weight loss. In addition, doing
some resistance exercises like those shown in the February edition
of Healthy U can also help to build your muscle mass, and the more
muscle mass we have the higher our metabolism and the more
kilojoules we burn without even trying.
Do you have a question for Diabetes Queensland's nutrition and
physical activity experts?
We're here to help and look forward to supporting you on your
journey to feel good and get more out of your life.
Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and
we will answer it for you.
We may even ask you if we can publish it in the next
edition of Healthy U.