I’ve always thought that eating 5 or 6 meals a day seemed a little silly and an archaic way of thinking. For a while people thought it would increase your metabolism. Nope, it does not. Part of the reason was also glucose regulation. If you eat quality food and don’t eat sugar, you really don’t need to worry about the sugar spikes in your diet. I eat 3 meals a day. I don’t really snack. Tom eats 2 meals a day plus snacks. There is no right or wrong – quality of food and caloric intake is vital though.
As American waistlines have expanded over the past several decades, so has the amount of time we spend eating. In this article, we’ll examine the impact of meal frequency on our health and performance. Long gone are the days of three square meals. According to an analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)data, people are now eating between 4.2 and 10.5 (bottom and top deciles) times per day.
The same study also identified a shift in food consumption toward snacking. In the 1970s, women aged 20-70 years consumed 82% of their calories at meal time. By 2009, this dropped to 77%. Snacking made up the difference, and similar patterns were found among men.
Appetite Drives Eating Patterns
Most people today are eating far more frequently than ever before and not as a result of careful planning. Poor food choices seem to be driving the changes in eating patterns.
In 1999, Dr. David Ludwig conducted a study Zone Diet author Dr. Barry Sears called “one of the best-designed trials I have ever seen in the last 20 years of diet research.” Twelve obese adolescents were fed two meals with either low, medium, or high glycemic index (GI) foods for breakfast and lunch. All meals contained the same number of calories (392), but the kids who ate the high and medium GI meals consumed 81% and 53% more calories, respectively, over the next five hours when placed in a simulated living room stocked with snacks and sweets. This means the high GI meals stimulated their appetites. The low GI meal was designed with Zone proportions and consisted of an egg white omelet and fruit. This more satiating meal curbed hunger.