Nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, weight loss gurus, dieters, and everyone else seem to be firmly in their positions when it comes to the 3 meals or 6 meals per day dilemma. Some say that a regular 3 meals a day program –as long as you eat healthy meals, and keep a balanced diet– is the best way to avoid snacks and overeating.
But which one is really better: the 3 meals per day or the 6 meals per day? Both of them have its pros and cons. Here I will briefly outline them.
3 meals a day: The natural (?) choice
I have put a question mark after ‘natural’ since our current eating habits have nothing to do with nature, but with nurture instead. Western society has established the 3 meals a day routine in order to adapt to the daily routine of work. I guess the cavemen just eat… whenever they had something to eat. I don’t think they would hunt wild beasts three times a day –hey, as far as we know, they would consider themselves lucky if they happened to eat that day, being supermarkets not yet invented and all…-.
In fact, people from different parts of the world have different eating habits. Countries such as Spain or Argentina have four, or even five, meals a day as the regular thing. And not everyone eats the same in the same time of the day. I believe every doctor on the planet recommends eating a succulent breakfast, since the body needs fuel after sleeping for a good 8 hour night (or, if you are anything like me, playing videogames three hours straight and sleeping for about five hours after that, LOL). However, what feels like a good breakfast for me –toast with ham, tea, and some scrambled eggs- may feel ‘luncheable’ for some other people. Brazilians eat plenty of fruit for breakfast together with… coffee. Americans drink milk while sharing a pizza. In Russia certain hotels offer a slice of salami and some fish as breakfast.
Anyway, forget about the whole ‘natural’ thing! Let’s just stick with the fact that most of our friends and family members live on a 3 meals per day program. How is this good for losing weight? Those who accept this program say that it gives your body time to digest and process food. Besides, it is easier to stick to a diet plan when you are having your meals at the very same time everyone else does, even if you are not eating the same food. Sitting at the table has a social importance that can’t be reduce to food ingestion. Therefore, if you are going to settle for three meals per day, you will know that you can still eat dinner with your spouse and children, go out for lunch with a colleague or have breakfast in bed on Sunday morning while solving the newspaper’s sudoku or crossword puzzle.
The negative part is that, by eating reduce portions of low-fat or low-carb food, you are really likely to get too hungry in-between meals. You will need a strong will if you want to survive the diet without cheating!
6 meals a day: What’s for brunch today?
Some diet plans call for a 6 meals a day routine. This means you will have to divide your food into even smaller servings, and eat once every three or so hours. Americans have come up with the term ‘brunch’ for describing a meal that goes between breakfast and lunch (or that it is supposed to replace both). Could we start talking about ‘tupper’ for that meal between tea and supper? LOL
Of course, the good part of having 6 meals per day is, there is little chance to get hungry, since you are almost constantly ingesting food (even if little food). In fact, this program is said to work because metabolism is thought to speed up: you burn more calories digesting the meals; you follow the diet more strictly since you have to be constantly monitoring your food intake, etc.
Of course, this program is not socially adequate! It’s a pain to come up with 6 meals a day: imagine being in the middle of a work meeting and saying ‘Ok, everyone, keep talking, but it’s time for my morning snack’. Or having dinner with a guy and eating just a small salad… only to come home three hours late and having fat-free yogurt. It sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it?
3 Meals Per Day vs. 6 Meals Per day Conclusion
To sum up, the jury is still out whether 3 meals or 6 meals is really better for you, when in fact there is research to support either one. So it might be a good idea to follow the one that helps you lose weight the best and better goes with your lifestyle.
As for myself, my friend Sandra wants to lose weight (as many other friends of mine do!), and it is funny how she thinks that by not eating, or by skipping a meal, it will work. It might have worked when we were teenagers, as I was starving myself to stay ultra slim too… but today, it is impossible for me not to eat! And I am all for the 6 meals per day: breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and a not too late snack sometimes (and there are a lot of cakes and desserts in my daily diet, as you already know I cannot survive without the sweet stuff). Hey, now that I think about it, perhaps that is exactly the reason why I find it so hard to loose weight after all! LMAO