Is It better to eat 5-8 smaller meals for weight loss?

Is It better to eat 5-8 smaller meals for weight loss?

Weight loss and the fastest ways to achieve it- is the long-lasting question floating in every individual's mind. But, are you sure about some basics and eating patterns when it comes to weight loss?

Here comes the dilemma, whether its small frequent meals or fewer big meals?

Also, there is a misconception among people regarding the number of meals consumed for weight loss. The fact is, to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. It does not mean you need to starve until you reach your goal.

Do you believe that instead of eating three main meals a day, 5-8 mini-meals will help in weight loss? It's time to break that myth.

The calorie intake matter more in weight loss rather than the number of meals.

If the number of meals you eat doesn’t make a difference with weight loss, what does? Let's discuss more in detail and conclude which is better for you?

What Research Says?

A recent study from the University of Ottawa found that on a low-calorie diet, there was no weight loss advantage to splitting calories among six meals rather than three.

Another research found that switching from 3 daily meals to 6 small meals did not boost calorie-burning or fat loss. In fact, the researchers concluded, eating 6 meals a day actually made people to crave more.

The best way to achieve weight loss consistently is following the fundamental mantra:

Energy In < Energy Out (Weight loss)

Energy In = Energy Out (Balanced)

Regardless of how often you eat the portion control and daily calories matter a lot, in reducing your weight.

What’s the fact?

Expert suggests- Meal frequency does not affect metabolic rate and thus has no direct effect on weight loss. So, should you give up on the concept of six or more mini-meals? Not necessarily. The optimal timing of eating may depend on various factors to each individual and their health conditions.

“Not one size, fits or all.”

For example: - Nuts and dry fruits are super foods, but some people can't stop once they start eating nuts, and that can be a problem.

The frequency of meals depends on the factors discussed below;

Is It better to eat 5-8 smaller meals for weight loss?

Understand your eating habits and design the meal plan according to your body's requirements. Don’t get influenced by fake statements and quacks advice in terms of weight loss. Consult Qualified Professional – Dietitian!

  • Mood Swings

Are you an emotional eater? Do you crave for foods?

These criteria make you indulge in eating a greater number of meals. Therefore, what and how much you eat during this situation decides the number of meals you consume. 

  • Appetite Matters

Some are slow eaters or don’t prefer eating too many meals – in that case, they are more comfortable with three main balanced meals. 

  • Ambience

Even the environment plays a role in your meal pattern. If your office pantry is filled with snacks, it's easier to go and grab junk foods like chips or cookies instead of planning your own healthy meals and bringing them in. Work from home, with constant access to the kitchen, can present similar challenges. 

  • Lifestyle Disorders

The number of meals also depends on the health condition, people with diabetes and blood pressure should keep check on their meal frequency to prevent spikes in blood sugar and other complications

  • Physical Activity

The activity of individual (Sedentary/Moderate/Heavy) also decides the meal frequency to meet the recommended dietary requirement of the person. The workout regime includes the pre-workout and post-workout meal for an individual to achieve his goals. In that case, smaller meals are preferred rather than bigger meals.

  • Nourishment and Nutrition

To be more precise, what you eat in your meals (quality/quantity) also decide your frequency of meals. Is it energy-dense or nutrient-dense? Energy-dense foods makes you feel hungry often, whereas the nutrient-rich foods give satiety and aids in weight loss.

  • Portion Size

If you want to eat small frequent meals, concentrate on your calories and divide it accordingly. For a 1500calorie plan, are you having five 300-calorie mini-meals? Because a 500-calorie smoothie for one meal will defeat the entire strategy.

What else Matters?

Is It better to eat 5-8 smaller meals for weight loss?

If you’re going to prefer smaller meal routine, the biggest danger is overeating.

As long as you choose healthy foods and keep portion sizes in check, frequent meals can help you lose weight and keep cravings at bay. The simple strategy is mixing portion control with protein and fiber to fill you up in case of weight reduction.

Whether you’re having the standard three meals or small frequent meals, getting the most nutrient bang for your calorie buck is the key. If you have trouble in portion control or you don’t have time to prepare healthy snacks, you can prefer three main meals per day.

Bulgy Glimpse!

Quality, calories, and portion size ultimately make the difference.

Therefore, the number of meals depends on the activity, lifestyle, eating pattern and health ailments of an individual. It’s not a generic fact, that small frequent meals help in weight loss and can be chosen by everyone.

Is it bigger or smaller meal frequency that has worked best for your weight loss? Leave your comments to motivate the readers to select the opinions based on experience!




Indu Vaishnavi R, Dietician

Indu Vaishnavi is a Consultant Dietitian (Gold Medalist) with 10+ years of experience as a Corporate Nutritionist and Certified Food Safety Auditor. She is also counselling clients for lifestyle disorders through her online platform. She has expertise in conducting nutrition presentations, health talks and webinars. Apart from being a Nutritionist, she has a keen interest in painting, creative craftworks and exploring nutritious recipes. 

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