We are often “advised” to eat 3 meals per day in order to stay healthy. We are even advised to eat at least 3 meals per day if we want to lose weight. In fact there is some advice floating around saying that you should eat 6 meals per day if you want to lose weight. Is this really good advice?
100 years ago
Around the turn of the 20the century people were encouraged to make sure that they ate 3 meals a day in order to stay healthy. Work was far more physical, and even domestic life was too. The majority of people worked long hours labouring, and had more physically difficult lives. Labour saving devices such as washing machines, dish washers and cars were far less common. People generally burned a lot more calories than people do today.
There was also less money to go round, and food was more expensive than it is today. It was a challenge to afford to eat enough. So people generally needed to be reminded to eat more, or they risked becoming underweight, which can lead to a variety of health problems.
In the early days of the Mars bar, it was advertised showing off how many calories it contained. People were actually attracted to the calories. Buying a Mars bar was a considered purchase, and people often skipped their lunch time meal in order to afford to buy one. So they needed to feel full when eating it. Now most chocolate bars will not talk about the calories, unless they can boast how low they are. This illustrates the definite shift in attitudes due to the different climates.
Today people simply don’t generally need to exert themselves as much over a typical day. Most people in developed countries can afford to eat pretty much as much as they want. Even the poorest of people can afford to eat enough.
So now we are in the position where most people don’t need to be encouraged to eat more. If anything they need to be encouraged to eat less. More people now have sedatory jobs and so do not need to eat three square meals every day. A person without health problems would be fine eating 2 meals per day, and it would not make them put on weight either.
Is it bad for the metabolism?
It is a myth that eating fewer meals can make a person put on weight. There has been no scientific research to conclusively back this up. Most research shows that there is no relationship between meal frequency and time, and gaining weight. These are usually the claims of the weight loss industry who don’t really want people to lose weight. The weight loss industry like to make the concept of weight loss more complicated than it really is. This breeds confusion, and confused people need help. Help can come by buying their products.
The only way someone can put weight on is by consuming more calories than they burn. It doesn’t matter how many times a day you consume them, or what time of day. If you burn 2500 calories over the course of a day, and eat a big 2000 calorie meal in the evening, then you will still lose some weight. This makes total logical sense. How can you store calories that you haven’t eaten? Research has also shown that meal frequency has no bearing on the metabolism. So you can eat 6 meals a day or 1. It’s just the total amount of calories that you consume that counts.
Skip a meal
If you want to lose weight, and are in good health, then why not skip a meal? There is absolutely nothing wrong with skipping a meal unless you have a really physical job or have health problems such as diabetes.
Breakfast is usually the most beneficial meal to skip. Most people eat things such as cereal or toast, which give you a lot of calories without providing you with much nutrition. When first skipping breakfast you will feel hungry for the first 2 or 3 days as you get used to it. However you will very quickly get used to this routine and it will become normal. You body knows when you usually eat, and will feel hungry in preparation. After a few days of skipping breakfast you should no longer feel so hungry at breakfast time.
By just making this one change you could save around 500 calories per day, depending on what you used to eat for breakfast of course. That is around 3500 calories per week. This is about the same amount of calories that it takes to make one pound of body fat.
So if you skip breakfast, you could lose a pound of fat every week, assuming that your weight was stable before. That is a massive 52 pounds over a year. All you need to do is live the same as before, except for making that one change of skipping a meal. Just be careful that you don’t “make up” for missing a meal by eating more throughout the rest of the day.
So unless you have any specific health problems, there is nothing wring with skipping breakfast and saving those calories that you would have eaten. It is very difficult to lose weight when you are eating 3 meals every single day. This is especially true if you don’t burn a lot off with work or exercise. Try skipping breakfast for a few weeks, and see what results you get.