5 Benefits Of Eating Small Meals Throughout The Day

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A healthy lifestyle doesn't involve extreme diets. Instead of starving your body, opt for small, frequent meals throughout the day. They decrease hunger and prevent overeating. Additionally, they might improve your metabolism and lower the risk of metabolic diseases like high blood pressure and excess body fat. Eating small meals every few hours also reduces fatigue. Studies indicate that frequent meals improve mood and reduce stress. It also pushes people to opt for healthier foods.

The weight loss industry has a diet for every occasion. Some diets require you to fast on alternate days while others push you to cut down on your calories drastically. And, although these diets might just help you lose a few pounds, experts believe that constant dieting doesn’t contribute to maintaining an ideal weight or leading a healthy lifestyle.

Instead, nutritionists have now been recommending that people opt for small, frequent meals throughout the day. Here are 5 benefits of choosing this kind of eating over any other diets out there.

1. Prevents Overeating

Frequent meals lower hunger and cravings.

Extreme diets lead to starvation, which overrides the body’s natural signals for feeling full. This sets you up for unhealthy eating habits.1

Hence, opting for small, frequent meals can decrease hunger and help you feel full. Additionally, it will reduce the chances of you indulging in unhealthy, high-calorie foods such as pizza, desserts, and soda.2

2. Boosts Metabolism

Frequent meals boost metabolism.

Starving your body slows down your metabolism, making it difficult for it to burn calories. The more starvation cycles your body experiences, the worse this effect will be. This means that even if you do lose weight at first, you’re bound to put it on in the long term.3

Studies have concluded that spreading your calories out throughout the day can slightly improve your metabolism and prevent metabolic diseases such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess body fat around the waist. However, the research around this benefit is limited.4

3. Reduces Fatigue

Frequent eating reduces tiredness.

Excessive dieting can lead you to feel tired all the time. This might lead to lowered productivity at work (afternoon slump) and a lack of energy to exercise.5

This fatigue is caused due to the fact that the brain has very few energy reserves of its own and needs a steady supply of nutrients. In fact, most of us might feel tired after just a few hours of not eating.

Eating small meals every few hours can reduce your perception of fatigue. It can also lower your blood sugar, thus preventing a slump in energy later on.6

4. Improves Eating Habits

Frequent meals promote healthy eating.

An important part of eating right is choosing the right kind of nutrients for your body. And, often diets miss out on looking at adequate nutrition. This, in turn, leads to nutrient deficiencies.7

Studies state that people who eat less than four meals tend to consume unhealthy calories in the evening. They also tend to have alcohol later on. One possible reason for this could be the fact that restrictive diets lead to intense cravings for sweet sugary food.8

Conversely, people who eat more frequently throughout the day tend to make healthier food choices and have a greater intake of lower calorically-dense foods. Hence, opting for smaller, more frequent meals can help you keep track of your nutrition and eat right.9

5. Improves Mood

Frequent eating improves mood.

Dieting and starvation can cause your body to experience stress due to an increase in cortisol levels. And, if you’re working out while dieting, you might increase your stress levels. Stress, in turn, leads to binge eating.10

Additionally, following extreme diets, especially the ones that limit carbohydrates and recommend increasing protein, are believed to cause anger, tension, and depression.11

Studies indicate that frequent meals can improve both mood and cognition. Additionally, it might lower stress.12

In order to keep up with this diet, plan your meals in advance to avoid having to worry about what to eat later on. Additionally, do not stay more than 5 hours without a planned meal or snack and have half of your calories for the day before the evening to avoid overeating in the night.13 This will help you plan a healthy, wholesome diet for yourself, that doesn’t involve starving yourself.

References   [ + ]

1.The Dangers Of Extreme Diet. Northwestern University.
2.Eating Frequency and Weight Loss. Harvard Health Publishing.
3.Tips to lose weight the healthy way. The University of Texas at Tyler.
4.House, B. T., G. E. Shearrer, S. J. Miller, K. E. Pasch, M. I. Goran, and J. N. Davis. “Increased eating frequency linked to decreased obesity and improved metabolic outcomes.” International Journal of Obesity 39, no. 1 (2015): 136-141.
5.Extreme dieting? Don’t! University Of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
6.Eating to boost energy. Harvard Health Publishing.
7.Calton, Jayson B. “Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 7, no. 1 (2010): 24.
8.Safe and Dangerous Dieting: The Fad Dieting Epidemic. University Of California Santa Barbara.
9.Aljuraiban, Ghadeer S., Queenie Chan, Linda M. Oude Griep, Ian J. Brown, Martha L. Daviglus, Jeremiah Stamler, Linda Van Horn, Paul Elliott, Gary S. Frost, and INTERMAP Research Group. “The impact of eating frequency and time of intake on nutrient quality and body mass index: the INTERMAP study, a population-based study.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 115, no. 4 (2015): 528-536.
10.The changes and effect of stress hormone cortisol during extreme diet and exercise. Boston University.
11.You Are What You Eat: How Food Affects Your Mood. Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal Of Science.
12.Kanarek, Robin. “Psychological effects of snacks and altered meal frequency.” British journal of nutrition 77, no. S1 (1997): S105-S120.
13.Diet Tip #1- Never Skip A Meal/ Spread Your Calories Throughout The Day. Eugenio María de Hostos Community College.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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