Can You Really Eat More to Lose More?

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

eat more lose moreI read that I should eat more to lose more? I am following the six small meals per day rule. Wait, isn’t it three meals per day? Or, how about eight meals per day?

I get all types of questions about how many times per day to eat, and questions about eating too little or too much when trying to lose weight.

If you are asking any of these questions, here are the answers.

Does Eating More Food Speed the Metabolism?

A small amount. When we don’t eat enough after a period of time, the body thinks that we are starving and slows to metabolism to conserve energy.

However, when we are feasting, or eating more frequently, the metabolism only increases slightly—not enough to make a difference.

How Many Meals a Day is Best?

four meals a dayWho said we need to eat three, six, or eight meals per day? Just a few health experts or gurus, but their advice is based on little research. Everyone has their own take on how many meals to eat in a day. And, what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for all.

The most important fact is to never skip breakfast and to never go too long without eating. Too long may be five or more hours during our active hours. The benefit of frequent eating is that is helps prevent binge eating, maintain balanced blood glucose control, and keep the energy high.

Am I Eating Too Much?

After I write someone a meal plan, they exclaim, “but this is so much food!

It is not an excess amount of food, but since we have added in many extra fruits and vegetables, it seems like much more food.

If vegetables and fruit don’t make up most of your diet and you feel you are eating too much, you probably are.

Don’t guess on this. Keep an accurate food log on a website like myfitnesspal.com to get a better idea of how many calories you are consuming. And don’t forget to measure!

Remember: don’t guess because it leads to frustration when trying to reach your diet goals. Or, you can always visit your local Registered Dietitian so he or she can determine if you are over-consuming.

So, you can see how you may be able to eat more healthy foods and lose weight, but you still have to be careful it is not in excess. Any macronutrient in excess will lead to weight gain!

But, eating 3, 6, 8, or more times a day really doesn’t make that much difference in the long run.

5 Comments

  1. Sandy

    Love this article! I am a Registered Dietitian and am asked at least once a week how many times/day someone should eat. Thank you for referring people to a RD!

    Reply
  2. Bethany

    I love My Fitness Pal. Keeping track of food intake really does a lot to keep me “honest.”

    Reply
  3. Jenny

    It makes a huuuge difference for me… but that’s in a big part energy and mood and hunger.

    I eat much more if I put it off then if I eat frequently and smaller, and I feel awful. I have fasting hypoglycemia (non-reactive type) and I feel sick sick sick and then want to binge.

    Reply
    • Jim

      Yes I hear you on that one. If you have any kind of hypoglycemia, then eating small and often is so much better and those blood glucose spikes and drops.

      Personally I think the jury is out regarding increased metabolism from eating more meals. It’s a very individual thing.

      Reply
  4. Spectra

    I can’t eat 6-8 meals a day, mostly because I can’t eat at work. So I just eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack and make sure I don’t go over my calorie limit for the day. I eat a highly plant-based diet, though, so it’s usually hard for me to eat too many calories even though I do eat a lot of food.

    Reply