What’s better? Eating 3 large meals a day or 5 smaller ones? The most common advise you’ll find is that 5 meals a day is better, even 6. What, are you a rodent that needs to constantly chew on something? Or a chicken whose entire day is spent on looking for food and eating. No, I’d rather be like a lion or tiger (you know, the animals higher up on the food chain). They eat once in a while but eat big. Then they rest. The meals are not frequent at all, but look how strong, lean and mean these animals are. How about crocodiles? They can go without food for extended periods and still live for over 100 years. Have you ever seen an obese croc, lion or tiger? No (at least not in the wild). But I’ve seen plenty of obese people who constantly chew on something.
Most of the arguments for small frequent meals are based on the assumption that eating frequently will increase your metabolic rate and therefore you’ll burn the calories quicker. However, there are studies that do not support this assumption and say that eating frequency has no effect on a person’s metabolic rate. So, for now that’s all it is – just an assumption.
Now, I’d like to make another assumption. One that says that bigger meals are better for you. Imitating nature (see above) is my main argument.
Another reason would have to do with the physiology. Food sits in the stomach for about 4 hours (sometimes longer) and gets treated with gastric juices. If you eat before the food moves on to the duodenum, you are mixing partly digested food with undigested. I am not sure how the stomach separates it. I don’t think it does. Somehow, I also don’t think that this is good.
Furthermore, there is a tendency to make those small meals larger. Don’t forget that every time you eat there is an insulin response in the body due to blood sugar (glucose) from food. Insulin is a hunger hormone. So more frequent insulin in your body, the more hungry you get. Expanding on this point, there is a risk of developing diabetes with frequently releasing insulin into your body. Especially for people who have problematic insulin response to blood sugar.
Frequent meals may also overload your body and not give it enough time to eliminate waste. There may be a bottle-neck somewhere in your system and frequency and amount of food really need to be adjusted to the rate of elimination. There seems to be a lot of people with big guts but not necessarily fat.
Also, lets say your body is used to having 6 meals a day and you go somewhere where it’s not feasible – a seminar, trip, camp or similar. You would feel very uncomfortable without all this constant munching. In case of a seminar or training, your stomach would be crying for attention and you would not learn as effectively.
And honestly, who’s got the time to constantly eat and worry about food? Mice, rats, rabbits, seagulls and chickens. Count me out of it, I have better things to do.