Weight loss can be easier if you follow a 3 Meals A day Diet. I have 8 reasons why it’s beneficial for your health and waistline.
A Return to 3 Meals A Day
First, a disclaimer! If you see my current meal plans, you’ll see I’m usually eating 4 meals a day now, but usually the fourth meal is a protein treat, dessert or something close to the third meal. I still practice putting a no-snacking space between meals!
I recently found out the “one meal a day diet” got an acronym. They call it OMAD. So, I think it would be awesome if eating three meals a day got trendy enough to have an acronym. We could call it the 3MADD: The 3 Meals A Day Diet. (But apparently that’s some sort of overseas TV show. ha,ha)
Eating three meals a day is nothing new. Humans have been eating three meals a day for generations. In the past, meal timing has been dictated by:
- our culture and traditions.
- our environment.
- our work schedules.
- sunrise and sunset.
- and more.
Today, things have changed. We now have access to huge quantities of food, any time of the day. As a consequence, some of us have eliminated the three meals, and replaced it with grazing all day. And then there are those people who eat three full meals a day, but add grazing between meals.
The latest statistic for obesity from the CDC shows 42.4% of the adult population has obesity. The constant access to high calorie foods creates an environment where this number will continue to rise.
What is the Three Meals a Day Diet?
The three meals a day diet is exactly what it sounds like to be.
Eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, and eliminating snacks. I propose, that rather than grazing all day, having a clear ‘stop and start’ to each meal can help you lose weight without much effort. It helped me!! I’m a reformed grazer for sure.
Meal frequency has been the subject of great debate in the weight loss and body building community. There isn’t much evidence to suggest that eating three meals vs 6 mini meals is more effective for weight loss, if calories and macronutrients are the same.
However, our modern access to food, behavior, and adherence to a calorie plan has a huge impact.
Furthermore, an article related to research conducted at the University of Missouri suggests all-day snacking might not be as beneficial as previously thought, especially for obese women.
The article states
“Our data suggests that, for obese women, eating fewer, bigger meals may be more advantageous metabolically compared to eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day,”(source)
8 reasons three meals a day works for Weight Loss
Here are 8 reasons it is easier to lose weight when you stick to 3 meals a day, vs 6 mini meals.
- You will likely eat fewer calories. We often think we can eat the same number of calories spread throughout the day. In truth, the more often you reach for food, and the more eating situations you put yourself in, the more calories you will eat.
- You can mentally have bright lines to avoid decision fatigue. When it comes to weight loss, it’s sometimes easier to decide ahead of time our black and white rules. If you decide you won’t eat between meals, it’s easier than making that choice over and over again throughout the day, with different outcomes. They call this decision fatigue. There is no decision fatigue if you decide one time, you aren’t the type of person that eats between meals.
- You can feel satiated, and not left feeling hungry after a mini meal or grazing. I admit, this one is for me. I like to be FULL after I eat. Grazing, snacking, or eating a ‘mini meal’, just leaves me wanting more food. This of course, leads to over consumption of calories.
- Insulin sensitivity returns, leading to easier weight loss. Insulin is a hormone that controls your cells use of energy. One way to become resistant to the insulin is by a constant stream of glucose from eating. Limiting your eating window allows glucose time to be used between meals and help your insulin do it’s job. (source)
- It’s easier to be mindful of your food. Mindful eating has been pivotal in my own weight loss journey. When you snack between meals, it’s easier to be mindless about it, distracted, and not fully enjoy the food you are eating.
- You will make healthier food choices. Snack foods are notorious for being unhealthy. While you can find healthy snacks, you are more likely to eat whole foods when you are sitting down, at a table, to a balanced meal
- Eating meals you sit down for, vs grazing is easier to track. When you get into the habit of grazing, most of us underestimate how much food we’ve actually eaten. Portion control become impossible if you are eating or snacking out of a box or a bag. (check out our popcorn experiment to see).
- And finally eating three meals a day vs. snacking all day is easier to lose weight because you can stop fixating on food. When thoughts of food constantly enter your mind, you want to eat more of it. Live your life between meals, and allow yourself to not be constantly nagged by the pantry to come back for more!
What should you eat on 3 meals a day?
You will likely eat healthier by eating three meals a day because you can be intentional about the food you put on your plate.
Aim for balancing all the food groups at each meal, and you can be sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
If you are tracking calories, which I recommend, split your daily calories in thirds to get enough food. If you’re on 1200 calories per day, 400 calories per meal is ideal.
For me, this is what it looks like:
- Protein: Foods like Eggs, Greek yogurt, protein powder.
- Grains: Toast, cereal, oatmeal
- Fruits/Veggies: Bananas, berries, apples.
- Protein: Foods Like Deli meat, chicken, nut butters, eggs.
- Grains: Bread, rice, pasta.
- Fruits/Veggies: like Carrots, cucumbers, oranges.
- Protein: Foods like pork, chicken, steak, tofu
- Grains: Rice, rolls, pasta
- Fruits/Veggies: green salad, corn, roasted veggies.
Take the 3 Meals A Day Challenge:
Now, it’s up to you! You won’t know how easy it is to lose weight eating three meals a day without trying it.
Send me a message and let me know that you’re going to do it! I want to hear from you. (amy @ healthbeet.org!)
For more on planning balanced meals using the food group method, check out Meal Planning with MyPlate here.
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