The ‘How’s and ‘Why’s of Eating 5 Meals a Day

Healthy Meal

Think about this.  When your children were babies how often did they eat?  Most babies I know eat every couple hours.  In fact, it’s sometimes difficult to feed them that often but that’s when they were hungry.  As they started to grow, didn’t it seem like they were always eating?  Not big meals,  more like grazing.  Then doesn’t it seem reasonable that eating 5 meals a day is natural? We actually had to be trained to go to 3 larger meals a day.

There’s this big debate out there as to which is better for you if you’re trying to get healthier and lose weight.  Just eat 3 meals a day or eat smaller meals 5-6 times a day. Sometimes when I tell people to eat 5-6 meals a day many people freak out. They say I’ll be as big as a house if I eat that much.  We’re not talking meals.  I like to say 3 meals and 2-3 healthy snacks. If you’re eating first thing in the morning and then every 2-3 hours you’ll find it the most effective way to keep your metabolism going strong and to ensure that your energy levels remain constant throughout the day.

Combined with a good strength training program, eating 5-6 times a day will quickly transform your body into a lean, toned, fat-burning machine.

Here are the major benefits of eating 5-6 times a day:

  • more energy
  • less hunger
  • reduced food cravings
  • control blood sugar levels & insulin production
  • reduce body fat storage
  • maintain & increase lean muscle mass

Obviously, it takes a good amount of planning, preparation, and persistence to get into the habit of eating this frequently. A good idea is to prepare your food well ahead of time. One thing I like to do is when I cook a dinner, I make extra meat and veggies for later.  Then I portion them out and put them in containers for my lunches for the next couple days.  It makes it really easy to eat healthier lunches.

Every meal should contain lean protein, good carbs ,and healthy fats in about a 40:30:30 ratio. No, it’s certainly not “easy”, but once you get into the habit of preparing your meals in advance and eating delicious, healthy food every few hours, you’ll see some amazing changes.

The other thing I do if I’m in a hurry and just don’t have time is have a meal replacement shake for one of my meals and maybe even one of my snacks for the day.  Sometimes I make it into a smoothie and other times just by itself.

What Happens When You Skip a Meal or a Snack?

  1. Your body’s metabolism slows down to make the food/fuel you gave it hours ago last longer.
  2. Your blood sugar drops, leaving you feeling cranky and light headed.
  3. You overeat at the next meal, to make up for the dip in blood sugar.

Benefits of Eating Five Times A Day

When you eat five times a day, you have:

  1. Less hunger and less overeating
  2. More energy and a more positive outlook
  3. More stable blood sugar
  4. Less cravings for unhealthy foods

I’ve learned that when my body keeps its blood sugar level, I have plenty of energy. I don’t get overly hungry at any point during the day, so that I do not overeat at meal time.
It is easier for me to eat healthy meals than healthy snacks. I had to work a little harder to find quick, healthy snacks.

Tips for Eating Five Times a Day

  1. Make sure there is protein or fiber in every snack or meal.
  2. Eat a reasonable portion, using your hands to measure your portion size.
  3. Plan your meals and snacks for the day by putting them in reusable Tupperware or Ziploc bags.

This is why I’ve made a conscious decision to eat every few hours.  It wasn’t easy at first, but now I love it.  If you have any ideas that have helped you eat more often healthy food please pass them on.  I’d love to share them with all our friends.

Molly Walsh

Molly Walsh

Writer and expert

Molly graduated from the London School of Economics in 2019. In her spare time you can probably find her golfing or trying to be inventive in the kitchen.

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