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3 Meals one snack vs. Five small meals

Anyone want to weigh in on this?


I have had people tell me that I should eat three meals a day, well-rounded, no processed white flour, no sugar, no snacks.

I have also heard that five, small meals a day seem to work well.

I understand that one may treat poor behavioral eating problems and the other may treat metabolic dieting issues, but my question is, which is best for someone trying to lose weight? Im fairly active, 24, and willing to eat healthy.


Mon. Apr 28, 3:12am

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That depends...

on your level of activity and your own eating pattern. Some people need the structure of 3 meals, while others that like to graze all day prefer the 5 small meals. The only "real" meal I eat is breakfast. The rest of the day I eat mini-meals and snack on fruit, nuts, and raw veggies. My eating patterns also depend on where I am. Am I sitting in the office all day or at running around all day? I tend to change my patterns to suit my activity level and location. Always keeping in mind to eat whole, unprocessed foods. And to allow for the occasional splurge.

Monday, April 28, 2008, 3:28 AM

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more samll meals

I eat 5 small healthy 100-150 cal.)snacks throughout the day and then a healthy dinner - works for me for 4 months. I am 168 today (guy) - 7 lbs less than high school !

I think meals tend to stretch the stomach making you want more and feel hungrier as well as NOT stoking your metabolism. plus if you are eating all the time you are less likely to feel hungry, right?

I think most of the books and magazines are recommending this approach now.

Monday, April 28, 2008, 10:44 AM

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In theory I like what 10:44 does. In practice my schedule simply doesn't allow for it. Plus I really like the ritual of a meal - preparing the food, arranging it beautifully on nice dishes and sitting down to eat in in good company. I also like the finality of it. If all I do is eat a little of this and a little of that - I quickly get out of control and before I know it I would have been better off to eat a meal. There's just something pyschological about it that I seem to need.

However it's quickly evident that what works for one individual doesn't work for another and vice versa. I don't think there is 'one true way' or we'd all be doing it and wouldn't even need to discuss the merits of one approach vs another. Do what works best for you.

Monday, April 28, 2008, 11:01 AM

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3 meals are not enough for me. There's too much of a gap between meal times and my blood sugar rises and falls like I'm on a roller coaster ride. it works better for me to have a good breakfast that includes carb, fat & protein. Then mid morning I have a snack of fruit or nuts or yogurt. Then a good size lunch, then another healthy snack mid afternoon. Then dinner, much smaller than most people eat for dinner. Because I'm winding down for the day, not much more activity to burn it off. Sometimes I even have a little after dinner snack in the evening. Maybe a small bowl of popcorn or grapes. This keeps my blood sugar pretty even throughout the day so I have energy without feeling crabby, cranky or hungry.

But everybody is different. Do what works for YOU.

Monday, April 28, 2008, 11:02 AM

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I've been doing the eating 6 times a day thing. My "meals" are between 200 and 400 calories (depending on the day and time) and then my 2 to 3 snacks are around 100 calories(sometimes more, sometimes less) I love it!! I never feel hungry and I have a constant energy now. I've been doing this for about 3 and 1/2 months. So far I've lost 30 pounds!! So this is definately the way for me. I'd suggest that if you get hungry often to try the more frequent eating. It definately helps on the cravings and low energy times.
Good luck with whichever you decide on.

Monday, April 28, 2008, 12:13 PM

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What works for me:

Coffee & breakfast - usually before 9AM under 250 calories
Snack in the late AM - less than 100 cal
Lunch shortly after noon - 300 or so calories
Snack around 4PM - 100 cal
Dinner 6:30-7:30PM - 400-500cal
Dessert (always, I KNOW!), frozen yorgurt or a small piece chocolate - 100cal

I incorporate fruit and or veggies into all snacks or meals, the fiber helps to keep me full. Lean protein is usually a part of lunch and dinner. I also stick with whole grains because they take longer to digest.


Monday, April 28, 2008, 1:00 PM

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What works for me:

7:00-7:30 am: Breakfast... usually a breakfast burrito with just eggs, a tbsp of RF cheese and a 96% fat free tortilla
10:00 am: snack... usually 2 rice cakes (I actually like them)
12:00 pm: Lunch 2 cups of romaine salad, carrots, a string cheese, a tomato, and fat free dressing.
2:00 pm: snack... having something sweet today, a Hersheys stick
4:00 pm- 5:00 pm: 1st dinner... usually the "real dinner"
7:00-9:00 (whenever my fiance gets home): 2nd "dinner" usually a salad... he likes for me to sit down with him and eat so I oblige him, and it keeps my blood sugar up and me going for the night.
BTW I go to sleep at 11 pm

My plan is based on my schedule and it really works for me, but does get hard on the weekends when I don't have my work schedule to help guide me.

What ever you do try to find a plan that works for you. I have lost 33 lbs on this plan :)

Monday, April 28, 2008, 3:25 PM

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I eat 3 small meals and about 3 small snacks everyday. Like another poster said, my meals are probably smaller than a typical meal but this is because I literally eat all day long!! This works very well for me as I don't have a problem over-eating. I get too hungry to wait for "meals"!

Monday, April 28, 2008, 5:35 PM

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Keeps me from eating too much

Like the PP said I like to eat smaller meals and snack throughout the day. This really helps me when I am at a restaurant or go long periods without eating because my stomach isn't used to being stuffed from big meals a couple times a day and it keeps me from eating too much.

Monday, April 28, 2008, 6:33 PM

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I do the three meals, maybe a snack.

I don't have time to be running around eating all the time, nor do I care for it. If I'm eating all the time, I no longer eat to satisfy hunger, I eat to eat. Doesn't help me at all.

I have breakfast when I wake up, lunch between morning and afternoon court, and dinner either once I get home, or in the office.

I make sure I drink a lot of water.

You can do a search on mastering leptin- it's a technique that advocates against the "eat all day" approach.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 8:38 PM

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OP here

For those of you who have smaller meals...

How do you factor in coffee? I usually have mine with nf or lf milk (bout 1.5 oz) and a few equals. Bout two cups after bkfast.

and...

Is this small meal deal harder to maintain during the weekend?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 1:08 AM

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3:25 here

Smaller meals are hard for me on the weekends and when I go out.

I have learned if I buy portioned, I eat portioned and if I buy a big bag of something I try to portion whatever it is out immediately (or else I could down a whole bag of chips in a sitting, and a "handfull" is no where to be found in the portions/measurement part of the NI label)... I have found this to be helpful during prime grazing time...AKA the whole weekend.

When I go out I try to immediately box 1/2 the meal for to go so I have a definate stopping point... and at fast food places I throw out 1/2 the serving or get a kid's meal.

I also found that carrying pre portioned foods such as nuts and jerky in my car in case I start to get hungry or it is snack time... keeps me away from McDs and BK or a gas station selection of "healthy"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 4:36 PM

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I've lost 22 lbs. and have kept it off for a year. I eat 6x per day. I eat until I'm pleasantly satisfied, not full. I am in my healthy weight range and weigh 12 lbs. less than I did when I graduated high school. I don't get ravaged and over-eat like I used to. Small meals work for me.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 8:01 PM

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Weekends for small meal eaters

OP/1:08 - that is an excellent question - I have a really hard time with weekends. My basic strategy (because you will probably eat a bigger lunch with family and freinds on the weekends) is to adapt - eat a small healthy breakfast and then a reasonable lunch and dinner - shooting for about 600 calories each but I must confess it is quite hard since your mind and body are relaexed and so you are not so busy and may eat out of boredom, lack of routine and peer pressure. tough for the many small meal eaters, but doable.

Thursday, May 01, 2008, 10:39 AM

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