MYTH: Constant Grazing Boosts Your Metabolism

Mon, 10/26/2015 - 18:49

Are six small meals really better for your metabolism than a healthy three-meals-a-day diet? It's time to get to the bottom of this popular weight-loss myth.

The Truth: The exact opposite is true: If you keep eating small amounts of food throughout the day, you'll never burn any fat.

This myth is an easy one to buy into, because at face value, it seems like it makes sense. By eating frequent, small meals, you're continuously stimulating your metabolism, and thus burning more calories, right? WRONG. Here's why:

By grazing around the clock, you're preventing your body from burning fat. When you're constantly eating, you're consistently releasing insulin, which puts your body into its "absorptive phase." Basically what this means is that the insulin in your body is storing sugar — and not letting other enzymes in your body release sugar to break down fat. The goal is for your body to be in "postabsorptive phase," where it uses your energy stores for sustenance, and burns more fat.

Grazing can also cause you to lose track of the calories you've consumed. When you have three, well-balanced meals a day and one snack, it's easy to keep count and it's much easier to nutritionally balance your meals. Conversely, when you have six small meals it becomes harder to count and remember how many calories you've eaten in a particular day. It also becomes more difficult to ensure that each time you're eating, you're consuming the appropriate combination of macronutrients like healthy proteins, fats, and carbs.

You're left feeling unsatisfied. Studies have shown that many people don't feel satiated following a small meal, which can then cause them to overeat later, to make up for it. Psychologically, grazing can leave you wanting more because you never sit down to have a full meal. Instead, I want you to eat every four hours — three meals per day with one snack between lunch and dinner. Eating every four hours stabilizes your blood sugar, optimizes insulin production and keeps your hunger in check.

The Bottom Line: Three balanced meals, spaced out every four hours — with a snack between lunch and dinner is the ideal meal plan for weight loss. Your body will use your energy stores and burn more fat!