If you are interested in weight loss or improving your health, eating small, healthy meals versus one or two larger meals may be a good strategy for you. However, some creativity may be in order to ensure that your new eating schedule fits into your busy lifestyle.
Small, healthy meals can be a good strategy when trying to maintain weight or maintain weight loss. If you have lost weight recently or are trying to maintain your current weight, you may be afraid of the scale creeping up. According to a study published in the "Journal of American Dietetic Association" in 2011, eating three meals and two snacks per day may be important in weight-loss maintenance. Eating several times per day can help control your hunger and provide insurance against overeating at your next meal.
Improve Your Labs
Some new evidence suggests that eating more frequent meals can have positive effects on cholesterol. In a 2007 study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," a group of people who ate one very large meal per day found increases in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and blood pressure compared to when those same participants ate more frequent meals. Eating small, healthy meals may help decrease cholesterol and blood pressure in adults. Plan to include heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts in all meals and snacks.
Plan With Purpose
Making the decision to eat smaller healthy meals can require some planning. If you work long hours outside of the home, and/or have a long commute, maintaining you new small, healthy meal plan can be difficult. Take the time once a week to plan meals and snacks and then make a trip to the grocery store to ensure that you have everything on hand before beginning your busy week. Keep healthy foods in your car, at your desk, in your purse or bag and at home. Always be prepared.
Boost Your Metabolism
A good exercise routine and eating small, healthy meals can increase your metabolism. Eating several small meals throughout the day can help keep your energy levels up. Having more energy can give you the boost you need to engage in more physical activity. Exercise will not only burn calories, but as muscle mass increases, metabolism increases as well. Add two days of strength-resistance training, like yoga or weightlifting, to your current workout regimen to increase muscle mass and metabolism.
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Eating Frequency Is Higher in Weight Loss Maintainers and Normal-Weight Individuals than in Overweight Individuals
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A Controlled Trial of Reduced Meal Frequency Without Caloric Restriction in Healthy, Normal-Weight, Middle-Aged Adults
Allison Childress is a registered and licensed dietitian employed in Texas as an outpatient and consultant dietitian specializing in sports nutrition and weight loss. She also teaches nutrition courses at the university level.