It used to be thought that three meals a day were better for you. In fact, most health experts even recommended against snacking as they felt that it promoted overeating and weight gain. However, experts are now finding just the opposite to be true.
Research suggests that consuming several mini-meals throughout the day can give you these five benefits (amongst others):
- You eat fewer calories overall. If you don’t let yourself get too hungry, it’s easier to eat less and be more satisfied with smaller portions. You’re more in control of what you put in your mouth which helps you make better decisions in regard to which foods you choose to consume. These results in fewer calories being consumed and can help you lose weight quickly and easily.
- Your blood sugar remains constant. If you take in vitamins and nutrients at regular intervals, your blood glucose level stays more consistent. This means that you don’t suffer from the sugar crashes that most dieters get and your blood sugar isn’t trying to overcompensate for too much or too little insulin. Say good-bye to cravings.
- It keeps your energy high. Most dieters know the feeling that calorie restrictive diets create. You wind up feeling lethargic and irritable, with barely enough energy to make it through your day. However, when you eat every few hours, you energize your body and give it the nutrients it needs to work as efficiently and as effectively as possible. It’s like keeping your automobile full of premium gasoline. This also keeps your metabolism fired up, allowing you to burn excess fat at a higher rate.
- You get more nutrients. The more often you eat throughout the day, the greater the variety of foods that you will consume. And, the greater the variety of foods, the more vitamins and minerals you’ll take in. This makes it easier and more likely that you’ll get the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA’s) of the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and strong.
- It’s cheaper. Because you’ll consume less at each sitting, you’ll end up spending less on the meals you eat as well. This is especially true if you eat out with any regularity. For example, a side salad costs usually about one-quarter of what a dinner sized salad does. This will let you keep more money in your wallet to buy the new clothes that you’ll need because they’ll be one or two sizes smaller.
How to Make It Work
Now, just because there are a lot of advantages to eating several smaller meals throughout the day doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to incorporate. Like any other life changes, it takes time and practice to come up with what works best for you and your situation.
That being said, there are some things you can do to make the changes easier to manage. You can create a smoother transition from taking in three meals to six by just following these three tips:
Tip #1: Plan ahead
Because you’re going to be consuming double the meals that you’re used to, it requires a little more pre-planning to make it work. You can’t just stop every couple of hours and go get food from a fridge or pantry that has none.
Perhaps you’ll want to plan your meals for the entire week before you go to the grocery store. That way you’ll have exactly what you need and won’t be tempted to skip a meal because there’s nothing healthy to eat in your house.
Also, come up with some mini-meals that are easy for you to take on the run. Maybe you’ll want to keep a small cooler in your vehicle or office so you always have one or two extra meals on hand for those times when your schedule changes at a moment’s notice.
Tip #2: Pay attention to your physical hunger
If you’re used to eating just two or three meals a day, then you may initially find it difficult to remember to eat more often than that. However, if you pay attention to your physical hunger cues it may be all you need to remind you that it’s time to eat.
By eating smaller, more frequent meals, your body should be getting hungrier sooner than it normally would with the larger meals. You’ll find that if you listen to your tummy growling or notice that feeling you get when your tummy needs food that you’ll have no problem remembering to take in nutrients every couple of hours or so.
This may be a challenge if you have a “diet” mentality and look at hunger as an opportunity to show that you’re strong enough to not eat. But, hunger doesn’t have to be your enemy, nor should it be. It’s there to let you know that your body needs sustenance – preferably of the healthy variety.
Tip #3: Keep meals balanced nutritionally
The key to eating smaller meals and making it work is to keep them balanced nutritionally. You want to get some form of protein and carbohydrate with each one so that you satisfy your body’s needs and keep your hunger at bay until you’re ready for the next meal.
Some small meal ideas may be cottage cheese and fruit, or half of a sandwich with a small side salad. You could also eat an apple with a little bit of peanut butter or maybe an egg with a slice of toast and tomatoes. Whatever sounds good to you is fine, just make sure it includes a couple of these major food groups so you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Eating smaller meals throughout the day will help you lose weight, gain energy and they’re much better for your body on a nutritional level. You can make changing to this way of eating easier by planning ahead, listening to your body and keeping your meals balanced with the nutrients you need.
You’ll feel better, look better and be more capable of handling your days. How are those for some reasons to make this way of eating a priority in your life?