There is a lot of conflicting information about what should be the ideal frequency of meals during the day. Many nutritionists, in fact, suggest that breakfast helps fat burning and that eating five to six times a day prevents the metabolism from slowing down. But is this really true?
Breakfast or Not Breakfast?
Conventional wisdom dictates that breakfast is a necessity, which ignites the metabolism for the rest of the day and helps lose weight. There are, in fact, observational studies that show that people who skip breakfast are more likely to develop obesity. But correlation does not always equal cause. These data do not prove that breakfast helps you lose weight; just that consuming it is associated with a lower risk of being obese.
This probably has to do with the fact that those who avoid breakfast tend to be people with unhealthy habits in general. Everyone “knows” that breakfast is good, so those who have a healthy life are likely to consume it. The truth is that there is no physiological need for breakfast. It does not turn on the metabolism and there is nothing special at breakfast compared to other meals. And the best advice that can be followed at this point is simple: if you are hungry in the morning, you have to have breakfast. If not, it is enough to make sure you eat healthy for the rest of the day.
Do More Frequent Meals Speed Up Metabolism?
The idea that eating smaller meals a day increases the metabolism is a persistent myth. It is true that digestion slightly increases the metabolism.
“However, it is the total amount of food consumed during the day that determines the amount of energy spent during digestion”.
Thus, consuming three meals a day that round a total of 800 calories will cause the same effect as six meals that add 400 calories. There is almost no difference. And multiple studies have compared people who eat many small meals during the day with those who eat less times but in greater quantity. And the general conclusion is that there are no significant effects on the metabolic range or the amount of fat lost.
Does Eating More Often Balance Blood Sugar Levels and Reduce Cravings?
It is often thought that eating large meals leads to rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar , while eating more times but in less quantity should stabilize these levels throughout the day. However, this is not supported by science. Several investigations show that people who eat large meals on a daily basis have lower glucose levels than usual averages. There may be higher blood sugar spikes, but the overall levels are much lower. This is especially important for people with problems in this area, because high blood sugar can cause various health damages. Eating less frequently also improves satiety levels and reduces hunger when compared to more frequent meals
Skipping Meals Occasionally May Have Health Benefits:
A topic of current discussion in the field of nutrition is intermittent fasting, in which the person strategically refrains from eating at some times of the day, skipping for example breakfast and lunch, or performing two days of full fasting per week. According to the general opinion, this would contribute to the loss of muscle mass, a totally undesirable effect. But this is not supported by any scientific data. Studies done on short-term fasting show that the metabolism, in fact, accelerates at the beginning of the process and only slows down after two or three days Additionally, research in both humans and animals shows that intermittent fasting has several health benefits, including improvements in insulin sensitivity. Intermittent fasting also induces a process of cellular cleansing called autophagy, in which cells discard residual products that contribute to aging and disease.