How Many Meals Should You Eat Per Day?

The digestion and use of the nutrients taken into the body vary depending on the composition of the nutrients and the time elapsed between meals. There are some hormonal and enzymatic changes in the body according to the amount of nutrients and the time they are consumed. The body tries to adapt to these conditions. However, when there are situations such as unidirectional nutrition, starvation or overnutrition, the changes that the organism creates in these systems will adversely affect health.

As a result of consuming meals at long intervals, the body retains less protein and water and excretes excess nitrogen (found in protein structure) with urine. The organism’s use of protein for protein synthesis is limited to a certain time. If a large amount of protein is taken into the body, the amount of nitrogen excreted in the urine also increases. Because the organism has an adaptation mechanism to throw out the nitrogen it does not use. When the food is eaten at short intervals, a positive nitrogen balance is formed in the body and body proteins increase. On the contrary, in long-term feeding, the accumulation of fat in the body increases. The risk of heart diseases and diabetes increases with the increase in the amount of blood fats (cholesterol and lipid).

In adequate and balanced nutrition, the content is as important as the number of meals. The more balanced the distribution of nutrients in the meals, the more regularly the metabolism works. When fed with a diet consisting only of grains, the body loses its vitality. This is related to protein synthesis. Proteins, which play an important role in the growth and development of the body, must be present at a sufficient level in order to be synthesized in the body. Inadequate protein intake in one meal cannot be provided with the next meal. While nitrogen remains in balance in those who eat protein distributed over two meals, a positive balance is provided in those who eat three meals.

In cases where the amount of carbohydrate in the diet is low, it has been observed that carbohydrate metabolism is impaired and plasma free fatty acids increase accordingly. When carbohydrates are reduced in the diet, most of the proteins are converted to glucose. For this reason, the energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat should be between 55-60%, 10-15% and 25-30%, respectively. Many minerals and vitamins also serve in the use of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. A balanced distribution of these nutrients in meals is essential.

In order for the metabolism to work regularly, it is recommended to consume at least three meals a day and to have 4-5 hours between meals.

Proper and adequate energy production of the body is related to blood sugar level. As the cells use sugar, a decrease is observed in the level of sugar in the blood and in energy production. This situation manifests itself in the form of fatigue, decreased attention, weakness, feeling of hunger, and headache. The person whose blood sugar level has fallen below normal becomes more moody and maladaptive. On the other hand, if the blood sugar is kept above the hunger level with the food taken, energy is produced easily, the person feels better, thinks more quickly and clearly, and his behavior becomes harmonious and cheerful. However, excessive food intake and excessive sugar increase cause drowsiness and decrease efficiency. This poses a danger to diabetics.

It takes approximately 11-12 hours between dinner and breakfast. This time increases to 16-17 hours when breakfast is not served. Considering the benefits of taking meals at appropriate intervals, the body should not be left without food for such a long time.

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