Does meal frequency really matter?

The idea that eating 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day is somehow superior to eating larger, fewer meals is still prevalent in the mainstream weight loss community. The reasoning behind this idea is that frequent meals can speed up your metabolic rate and help you burn more calories. This supposedly happens through TEF (Thermic Effect of Food)- which is the energy required to process food. The problem is that frequent meals don’t actually increase TEF.


A wonderful explanation by Monica Reinagel, MS, LN:

"In terms of the number of calories you burn, it depends on the number of calories you take in, not how frequently you take them in. Whether I eat one 600 calorie meal every 4 hours or two 300 calorie meals every two hours, the total calories burned via the thermic effect of food will be the same."

What about the dreaded starvation mode?

"it is true that if you don’t eat often enough, your body can go into starvation mode. However, it takes two or three days of fasting or severe caloric restriction to bring about any adjustment in your metabolism."