General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Is there really an advantage to eating small meals, every 3-4 hours, as opposed to only eating when you are hungry?

Asked by tinyfaery (42899points) July 16th, 2008

I guess I mean in regard to to weight loss and management. Do you have any personal experience either way?

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4 Answers

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Technically there is. When you eat, your metabolism goes up. It follows that the more often you eat, your metabolism stays higher. So yes, there is a physiological advantage.

There is also a psychological advantage because if you plan to eat small specific, healthy meals, you will not get hungry, crave donuts, go to the machine, buy them, eat them, and subsequently gain weight. You’ll know that you have an apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter in your desk/kitchen/wherever that are just waiting for you to eat them at 4:00, and you’re not THAT hungry, because you just ate a few hours ago.

If you wait until you’re hungry to eat, sometimes you don’t realize how hungry you are, you binge, eat more than you mean to, and then you feel bad, and it can just lead to this whole chain of events derailing your diet.

That is the gist of what I’ve read in textbooks, magazines, etc.

On the other hand, you asked about personal experience. For me, the times in my life I’ve lost weight the most easily were when I worked waiting tables during the summers while I was in college. I would wake up late, around 10:00 or 11:00 am, eat a substantial meal, run errands or exercise, then eat a snack around 3:00 or 4:00 before I went to work, and I hardly ate anything else the rest of the day. The first few weeks I would be starving from smelling all that food and being used to eating dinner around 7:00, but once I got used to it, I didn’t even get hungry in the evenings. I lost about 10 lbs in 2 months both years I did it. (Of course I would gain it back over the course of the school year, so I never came out ahead in the end, but today I still weigh the same as I did when I was in high school, so I’m satisfied.)

I doubt that that kind of schedule would work for everyone, but there’s the official line for you, and my personal experience.

Best of luck figuring out what works best for you!

gailcalled's avatar

The only thing that worked for me was limiting caloric intake and exercising to the tune of 600 calories less a day (300 from food and 300 from exercse) Given the kinds of food I was eating, (lots of fresh veggies, some fruit, complex carbs, water) I wasn’t hungry and lost a ton of weight slowly. (1 lb.per week.)

AnswerMan1980's avatar

I have disciplined myself to do just this over the past 3 years, and combined with total portion control (in America) and exercise (30 min a day – volleyball or weights) I LOVE the way I look and feel.

WakeUp's avatar

I see it like a campfire. Try throwing a big log on some embers and the fire will be smothered.

Keep adding small sticks and branches until the fire is roaring, then it will be able to “digest” a big log or two in no time.

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