HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU EAT?

In our race to be the biggest loser, most of us go after different diets. The trusted and age-old three-meals-a-day concept works for some, while others swear by the new-age eight-meals-a-day. Most of us have been brought up on the notion that having untimely in-between meal snacks, is one of the major causes of weight gain. Of late, however, a number of trainers, nutritionists and dieticians have come up with the ‘six-to-eight-meals-a-day’ plan. And many Bollywood actors and actresses claim that following such diets have made them the biggest losers.

They believe that in-between snacks help them stay slim and this regular intake also boosts metabolism. However, there are health gurus and trainers who believe that eating too many meals may just work against you and increase your weight. Read on to find out what the experts have to say…

Eat six to eight meals a day

Eat to burn! This can be one of the easiest and most reliable ways to ensure fat loss. Digestion itself is a calorie-burning activity. For every calorie you ingest, your body uses some to burn what you are eating. The question is, how do you make this wonderful feature of your body work for you? This is the essential principle behind the practice of frequent eating where eating at shorter intervals
(six to eight meals a day or more!) enables your body to use more calories to aid digestion. When you constantly provide fuel to your body, it means you are also tickling your body to work. Keep working, keep burning. This is called the thermogenic effect of food and it is not only an incredibly smart way of losing weight, it also helps you increase your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).

I like to call this the Internal Workout —because by continually making it work for digestion, you’re giving your body a workout. And while you may not be able to see the furious digestive activity going on in your body at any point in time, trust me, your body is working way harder than if you eat at longer intervals (three-to-four meals a day).

More meals means less stored fat

Eating six to eight meals a day rather than three, is better because it boosts metabolism, controls blood sugar levels and helps in weight management.

Consuming three meals increases the likelihood that one will start an exercise regime with a low blood sugar level. For instance, if we eat lunch around noon, generally our second meal of the day, we would not have much energy for an optimal, calorie-burning workout in the evening.

On the other hand, if we follow a six-meal-a-day plan and have a small meal around noon and another meal around 3 pm, our blood sugar level would be more stable, providing us with more energy for our workout. Cortisol, a hormone, breaks down body fat. However, if we eat a large, high-calorie meal, cortisol is produced in large quantities, but transports the fat from under the skin to deep within the abdominal cavity. This increases the risk of chronic diseases including abdominal obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Incorporating a six-meal-a-day plan into one’s routine decreases the magnitude of cortisol production.

Eating within 30 minutes of every exercise session enables our muscles to maximally replenish the glucose we used during the workout. Consuming another meal two hours after the post-workout meal further enhances post-exercise recovery and replenishment.

Eating every three-to-four hours can ward off hunger and prevent binges that lead to weight gain. It also maintains metabolism and can help regulate proper digestion to prevent gastrointestinal discomfort.

When people consume the same number of calories in one single daily meal rather than three, they show significant increase in blood pressure, total cholesterol levels and levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

Eight meals increase our energy levels, accelerate muscle growth, and speed up our metabolism without storing fat. In fact, frequent eating will actually allow us to eat up to 50 per cent more calories without storing an ounce of it as fat.

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