How Many Meals Should We Eat?

The number of meals should be one of the frequently discussed issues. Although 5-6 meals are recommended by most dietitians, there are also opinions that argue that only 2 meals will be sufficient. So which one is correct?

The possible effects of increasing the number of meals are associated with various reasons. Studies mostly focus on its effects on appetite metabolism. In most of the studies, it was concluded that consuming 3 or more meals instead of 2 meals was effective in appetite control. Thus, it was determined that there was a decrease in the next meal and in the total daily calorie intake. The main reason for this is hormones. With the consumption of food, the hormone insulin is secreted from the pancreas. Known as the hunger hormone, ghrelin works in the opposite direction with insulin, so the feeling of hunger decreases. Since fluctuations in insulin hormone will decrease with regular meal consumption, it has positive effects on the regulation of blood sugar, especially in diabetic patients.

In addition, every food has a thermic effect. This energy occurs with the consumption of food and affects the total energy expenditure by increasing the heat production in the body. The thermic effect of foods is affected by age, gender, meal size, meal content, and meal frequency. For this reason, it is emphasized that increased meal frequency can also increase total energy.

In most of the studies, it has been shown that fat loss is more in weight loss diets made with 3-4 meals compared to diets made with 1-2 meals.

Attention! Although it has been shown that increased meal frequency can have positive effects, as with everything else, this should not be exaggerated. Because feeding at very frequent intervals, such as 1-2 hours, forces the pancreas to produce insulin continuously. This can lead to type 2 diabetes by destroying beta cells in the pancreas after a while.

As a result… Of course, not everyone has to consume 6 meals. However, avoiding long-term starvation, eating 3 main meals and 1-3 snacks usually creates more positive results. However, it should not be forgotten that these general recommendations may differ according to many factors such as individuals’ habits, eating patterns, metabolic disorders, and age.

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