I think we’ve all heard this one. Don’t eat one huge meal, or three normal meals, but rather six small meals a day.
In the past, on all my various diet debacles, I’ve flirted with the idea of Body for Life, and that is one of the programs that makes you eat 5 or 6 small meals a day. I think the South Beach diet might also encourage multiple small meals.
Why is this? Where did all this “eat six small meals a day” business come from anyway?
When I was growing up, I heard, as I’m sure you’ve heard, “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” As I’ve said before, I don’t understand why the king and the prince aren’t eating the same thing, but no matter–you get the idea.
The point of the six small meals is two-fold: it keeps your metabolism from slowing down because there’s always a new supply of food, and it keeps your energy levels high for the same reason.
1.) It keeps your metabolism high.
Remember the post not too long ago about reworking your metabolism? Read it here. Basically what I said there is that when you aren’t eating, your metabolism slows down. The capability of our metabolism to speed and slow based on the needs of our body is actually really useful. Well, it would be more useful if we were cave people, and maybe it’ll come in handy again after a nuclear holocaust. But it doesn’t slow without a reason, and that reason is most often lack of new energy (food) entering the system.
Doesn’t this seem like a catch-22, though? Think about it. You’ve got to eat more to burn more. It doesn’t really make that much sense, but that’s how it works. I’m convinced that our minds are always thinking beyond our own reasoning, so when we realize that this is just the way it is, our “back burner” part of the brain doesn’t believe it, and that keeps us from really committing ourselves to acting on it.
Basically what eating six small meals a day does is convince your body that there is new food coming in all the time; there’s no need to worry–you don’t have to bank what you don’t use. That way the body starts working with the energy you’re supplying to it much more efficiently.
2.) Your energy level stays high.
This is the same idea as the metabolism. When your body has a constant supply of food, your metabolism doesn’t slow and you don’t get that low blood sugar empty feeling that makes you want to tear through your kitchen like the monster in a godzilla movie.
Now I’ve often thought of scheduling my eating along these lines, but it wasn’t until last night at about 8:30 when I was standing in my kitchen griping about how I didn’t have anything to eat that I realized that the problem has a fairly easy solution. Six small meals a day!
Why hadn’t I ever actually tried it? Because it seemed like so much work. I’m a busy person who doesn’t have time to measure out almonds with a pharmacy pill counter six times a day. But last night the answer clicked.
Just divide your calories allowed by six! Duh. So if I’m allowed 1,758 calories a day, then each meal on the six-meal plan would amount to 293 calories or fewer. Since it’s so close to a rounder number, I could shoot for 300 and go easy on the last one, or something like that.
So what I should do is this: get healthy food (because eating six Krispy Kreme donuts a day isn’t exactly a balanced diet), stock the Ranch with fresh fruits and other easy things, and then decide on the intervals. Since I still like making real food and cooking, I’d probably combine two of the meals a day or so for supper.
The schedule would look something like this:
8-9:45 ish — breakfast of grits and butter
11:00 ish — a banana and an apple
1:00pm ish — sandwich
3:00pm ish — nuts or a slug o’ peanut butter (I’d eat something here, but come in way under 300 so my supper could be a bit bigger)
5:00pm ish — fish, potatoes, and peas
9:00pm ish — popcorn (again coming in under 300 to give supper a wider buffer)
Honestly, that doesn’t seem so bad at all. In fact, it will be good for me, and I’m almost sure it will speed up my rate of weight loss. I’ve been ending many days with 700+ calories left to go, and while I’ve been losing weight for sure, I’m getting low blood sugary at times, and that’s a feeling I hate.
So if any of you are going to try this, let me know. I’m sure some of you have done it before, maybe on South Beach.
Answer the poll about six meals a day if you’re feeling saucy!