Number and Size of MealsKen Bendor
At the end of the day, only calories will determine whether or not you gain, maintain or lose weight; specifically the amount of calories you take in versus the amount of calories you burn. The size of your meals and frequency you eat them can have an effect, not so much on your weight, but on your body composition – how much fat your body stores.
After a meal is digested, your body has all of these extra calories floating around. It can store some carbohydrates in the muscles and liver and use some protein to build new tissues. All the rest of the energy that is not immediately used will be converted and stored as fat.
A bigger meal which has more calories will leave more energy floating around in your system. Your muscles and liver have a maximum capacity to store carbohydrates and once they’re full, everything else is converted to fat. You can either burn up that extra energy before it is converted to fat through exercise, or you can decrease the size of your meals so that your body will not need to convert excess energy into fat. While there is only so much carbohydrates that can be stored, the amount of fat you can store is limitless.
Stored fat can be used for energy. So is there really a problem with body fat? Won’t the body use fat as an energy source between meals? The answer is that your body will use the stored carbohydrates in your muscles and liver for energy before it uses fat. Once the carbs are gone, your body might start breaking down muscle proteins for energy rather than using fat. It does not like to use fat as energy and will only use it in certain circumstances.
Instead of being stuck on three large meals per day, try making your three main meals smaller and incorporating snacks between meal times. You will be eating the same amount of calories, but they will be divided into more pieces. Instead of having all your calories come from breakfast, lunch and dinner, some should come from snacks.
Going the entire day without snacks can leave about five hours between each meal. Fasting for five hours will cause you to get hungry and have cravings. Usually we get cravings for chocolate, chips and cookies, not salads. One of the most effective ways to cut down on junk food is to prevent cravings.
The Bottom Line
Snacks between meals will keep you from getting hungry and keep you on track to eat healthier foods. You should try to eat every three hours to prevent yourself from getting hungry. Eating smaller more frequent meals will result in eating healthier foods, a lower body fat percentage and more energy throughout the day.