You’ve probably heard that you need to eat five times a day because it helps you lose weight and speed up your metabolism, and also because you need to eat every three hours to avoid hunger. But is that true?
How many times a day do you need to eat?
What you need to eat five times a day is not entirely true, as it depends on the individual and their hunger, daily routine, work, schedule, and exercise, among other factors.
If you have to eat before and after lunch, it can turn into the consumption of unrecommended foods, such as sweets, juices, sodas, chips, sausages, sweet dairy products… Many times people choose these snacks instead of healthier alternatives. Therefore, the quality of food is more important than quantity. It is better to eat three healthy meals a day than five unhealthy ones.
So what dishes are most important?
Is it bad to skip breakfast? No meal is more important than others. Also, it doesn’t matter if you don’t eat breakfast because you’re not hungry or if you eat breakfast at noon and not at seven in the morning.
Does eating five times a day speed up your metabolism?
This idea stems from the fact that when you eat, you spend energy on digestion and breaking down products into components. This is called the thermal effect of food.
However, it turns out that the calories you use for digestion are more or less proportional to the amount of food you eat and the type of macronutrients. This means that if you follow a diet of 2000 kcal a day, it does not matter, you will eat three or five times because the thermal effect will be the same.
The Journal of Nutrition published a study in which the authors concluded that there is no reliable scientific evidence to support that increasing the frequency of meals can contribute to weight loss.
What happens during fasting?
It is important to eat when you are hungry because you have a mechanism of hunger and satiety, which is controlled by the hormones ghrelin and leptin.
Healthy adults without special circumstances (this does not apply to athletes or pregnant women) may not eat for many hours, even all day. If you fast for a few hours, your blood glucose is depleted, your body uses glycogen from your liver and muscles. Once these stores are depleted, the body activates gluconeogenesis: the production of glucose by proteolysis and lipolysis (the breakdown of muscle and fat tissue), which creates ketone bodies that are excreted in the urine.
In fact, for some people, intermittent fasting can be a good resource for weight loss. This fast includes 16 hours without food, except for breakfast. However, it is advisable to do so under professional supervision.
When is it advisable to eat five times a day?
- To control anxiety and hunger. If you eat five times a day, you are more likely to feel less hungry and better control the amount of food you eat. However, if you miss a meal, you may feel very hungry and eat more food than you should next time.
- If you suffer from certain conditions, such as diabetes, to prevent hypoglycemia and maintain a constant blood glucose level.
- If you do sports, so you have to eat a lot. This is easier to do in five meals than in three, making it easier to control the optimal breaks between meals.
It is better to create a diet. If you are used to eating five times a day, it will be difficult for you to eat three times, and vice versa. Therefore, all cases are different.
The most important thing is to eat healthy and nutritious food. If you eat healthy food, the amount of food you eat daily will not be too important.
Picture Credit: Unsplash