Three or Six Times a Day?

I'm talking about eating! How many meals do you eat a day? For generations, people in our society have been trained to eat "three square meals" a day. But is that the best practice? Studies have proven that this may not be the case for our waistlines.
A study conducted at the University of Toronto proved that eating six smaller portions a day instead of three larger meals is much better for your overall health. Well, why could it possibly matter how many times you eat if you consume the same amount of calories overall. (Meaning, if I eat 1,200 calories in a day - why would spreading that same 1,200 calories over six instead of three meals make a difference?)
This study showed why! It had nothing to do with the calories consumed, but with how they impacted each participant's blood sugar level. You must recall certain candy bar commercials that talk about taking care of your three o'clock hunger. There's nothing critical about three o'clock except that it's half way between lunch and dinner. Most office workers have a morning break or may pump coffee into themselves all morning to "keep the engine going" leaving no opportunity for hunger pangs. Basically, you get cranky because your blood-sugar level has spiked (usually followed by a sharp decline in which you are mentally and physically lethargic).
Dr. Oz called it "the slow burn" in a recent episode discussing why six meals are better than three. But back to the study, their findings were demonstrated when the participants were given three of the same meals each day. Half of the participants ate half of each meal and ate the second half three hours later - so essentially they ate six times a day (breaking up the same food into smaller portions). Not only were the six-meal participants less hungry during the trial, they lost more weight than the three-meal-a-day group.
Other findings showed that after just two weeks of eating like this, those who ate every three hours lowered their cholesterol by more than 15 percent.
But don't think that eating less - period - is helpful. Skipping meals causes your body to burn muscle and store calories (or fat) - generally NOT the goal.
Benefits to Six Small Meals a Day
Get rid of the 3-a-day and go for the 6-a-day to help your body! Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson explains it this way:

"... when the typical 'three squares' diet is replaced by smaller, more frequent meals, it can:
Help you lose weight
Control hunger
Reduce blood insulin (a factor in fat storage and inflammation)
Lower total cholesterol levels
Reduce LDL ( bad) cholesterol
Depress glucose levels
Increase bile acid secretion
Suppress free fatty acids levels
Reduce serum uric acid levels, a common risk factor for coronary heart disease
Increase uric acid excretion
Reduce fluctuations in satiety (fullness)"
With all of that good stuff happening, why wouldn't you choose to eat six smaller portions a day instead of three larger portions?
But Where Do You Start?
The easiest way to begin is to split your three meals in half. When you eat the first half, tell yourself, "I'll be eating again in two to three hours." Reminding yourself that the small portion isn't the only food you'll get all day really helps you psychologically to accept the smaller portion.
A way to improve your success is to choose lower carbohydrate and higher protein food at each smaller meal. If you eat high carbs, your body will convert them to sugar and toy with your glucose levels. If that happens, you haven't gained anything. So look for foods or replacement meals that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates so that you keep a slow burn going all day - burning up fat instead of muscle.
Another great outcome is that after a few days of this practice, your body adapts quickly. You'll find that you crave less sugar, sweet, or simple carbs. Also, your stomach feels satisfied sooner and you find that you can't eat larger meals. Then, make sure you eat a meal that has real vegetables (complex carbs) and pure protein (chicken, fish, turkey) - enjoy your breakfast, lunch, or dinner with family (be flexible)!
So stop fighting with your body's chemistry to lose weight and eat smaller portions more often, feel satisfied, and discover a healthier you!
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