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8 Reasons 3 Meals A Day Makes Weight Loss Easier

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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

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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).
  8. 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:

Breakfast

  • Protein: Foods like Eggs, Greek yogurt, protein powder.
  • Grains: Toast, cereal, oatmeal
  • Fruits/Veggies: Bananas, berries, apples.
Healthy balanced breakfasts

Lunch

  • Protein: Foods Like Deli meat, chicken, nut butters, eggs.
  • Grains: Bread, rice, pasta.
  • Fruits/Veggies: like Carrots, cucumbers, oranges.
Healthy lunch ideas

Dinner

  • Protein: Foods like pork, chicken, steak, tofu
  • Grains: Rice, rolls, pasta
  • Fruits/Veggies: green salad, corn, roasted veggies.
healthy dinner ideas

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.

Three meals a day diet for weight loss

READ NEXT –> STOP SNACKING TO LOSE WEIGHT

33 Comments

  1. Hello Amy
    I just looked at your website because I am looking for are you eating three meals a day but I did not know what to eat for each of the three meals… thank you so much for being so specific.. I do have a question though do I purchase all of these different items for breakfast lunch and dinner?? Do I change it up every single day for the same thing so I don’t have to purchase so many different items ??

    1. The great thing about three meals a day, is that you can eat whatever you want!I prefer to eat the same foods every day. Especially for breakfast and lunch. then, I switch up dinner. But if you like more variety, you can eat something different each day for sure. 

  2. Thank you so much for the pictures……you have great suggestions!
    Just simple normal everyday foods….actually makes me think I could actually do this!

  3. Hi Amy.
    I have always eat 3 meals a day but I love bread. I have cut bread out . I eat a lot of chicken and fish and fellow your suggestions i have lost one stone since January

  4. Hello, Amy! I’ve just found your website and I’m so grateful, you have so much great information on here. My question was in regards to 3 meals a day; this is some thing I want to try but I am unclear of the timing between meals so you don’t get too hungry. Especially if you have to wake up early in the morning. Also, do you stick to 3 meals a day even when you’re going to the gym. Thanks so much! And great work!

    1. Hi Erin!
      Right now I’m actually eating 4 meals a day. I go to the gym fasted, and then my meals hit about 9am, 12:00, 3:00 and 5:30ish.
      Since there isn’t ever more than three hours between meals, I never get hungry, but at the same time, I think it’s OK to let yourself get hungry! I think healthy food tastes better when you are hungrier.
      The idea with the three (or four meals), is less about the number of meals, and more about eliminating the mindless grazing when it’s not meal time!

  5. Clearly u know your stuff! Can I pick your brain? As stated in Body For Life (which i know you are very familiar with), he mentions to lose fat one MUST exercise (HIIT and Weights) while fasted. Is there truth to this cyz I’ve always learned that we should eat about an hr prior to training. Can I lose bodyfat even if I don’t exercise fasted? I’m only a week into Body For Life and haven’t been doing my workouts fasted so I’m concerned I won’t get results unless I do it as stated in the book 🤷‍♀️

    1. Hi Jody!Sorry it took me so long to reply!
      There’s been a lot of research since Bill Phillips said that, concluding that it doesn’t matter. That an overall calorie deficit is all that matters.With that said, I’ve been indoctrinated as an 80’s, low fat, Body for Life protocols, and I almost always workout fasted.  I still think there’s something to that.  
      However, when I’m headed out for a long run, I eat first, just for the energy!
      I realize that’s a non-answer, so the official answer is, it’s not supposed to matter! You can still lose weight working out non-fasted!
      Good luck to you.

  6. what if i am working out 3 days a week? i feel my intake should be at least a little more than what my outtake is. i saw you are/were doing 4 meals a day. would that be the case for me?

    1. Yes Hailey! I currently eat 4 meals a day. The idea is just to avoid grazing, whether it’s three meals or four. I would stick to it, even if you are working out, just by eating more food at each meal!

  7. I’ve read your article and I find it to be encouraging and helpful.
    I’ve tried everything you could think of for weight loss. From low carb, WW, to calorie counting.And of course a plan known “1:1:1” (basicly where you eat every 3-hours for a total of 5-meals a day). Supposedly eating often is supposed to help boost your metabolism. But even when practicing that I only lost your typical 2-lbs weekly. I will admit that I have lost some weight while doing those ways of weight loss. But unfortunately I would also easily bounce back and forth on my weight loss, and gain.
    So hopefully this will be the final plan I need to attemp, in other words the one plan that will finally help me get down to my goal weight, not to mention help me maintain it.
    I am beginning it today….

    1. Thanks for sharing your story with me! I hope this way of eating is simple and effective enough for you to stick with it! I’d love to hear an update in a few days!

  8. I see that there are many people asking if eating only three meals a day actually works for weight loss. I just wanted to chime in that it absolutely does! About 15 years ago I was around 140-ish pounds and I began eating the way my husband eats – three meals a day, no snacks, sometimes dessert. I went down to 120 easily and to this day I’ve never put it back on. I actually managed to get down to 110 through calorie counting but that came back after a few years and I’m still trying to get back down to it. I’m going to get back to the three meals a day!

  9. I am actually doing this on my own right now after so many crazy and expensive diets. Three meals with protein at each meal for satiety. How would a glass of wine fit into this plan?

    1. RIGHT!!  I know exactly what you mean.  I’ve spent thousands of diets on complicated solutions, but no snacking is FREE and effective!
      I would drink wine with or just after dinner, so it’s not extra calories in between.

  10. Your diet appears to be very short of obvious carbs apart from bread/rolls ?
    I am willing to give the 3 meals a day a try but will find it impossible if I have to cut out most carbs although you do recommend pasta and rice but what about potatoes !

      1. Hello Amy, thank you for your post! It really motivated me to follow your plan. I just wanted to ask, for a few weeks now I am eating 2 times at day: 2pm and 7pm my calories intake is around 1200 (sometimes a bit more or a bit less)
        Do you think if I add breakfast would be a difference? (same total calories per day)

        1. Hi Bianca!Thanks for following along!I think you definitely could add breakfast and spread out your calorie more. The idea is to stop grazing between meal, because it just leads to overeating! I eat 4 meals a day now, but try REALLY hard to not eat between the four meals.Definitely do what works for you to control calories, and still works with your lifestyle, and you’ll be good!

  11. Do you know any individuals in particular who have attempted your meal plan and later had successful results?

    1. Yes! I just got two this morning!! A girl emailed me saying she lost 4 lbs and she’s on her first week.
      Someone on pinterest just commented on a pin that she lost weight following my plan.
      My mom also lost weight in 1 week. 🙂
      And me! haha

  12. Curious to know if this has worked for Teresa. I’m in the same age group and thinking about trying the 1200 calorie height protein low carb meal plan. Has she kept you updated?

  13. Hi Amy,
    I’m 61 years old and want to lose 30 lbs. I know I need to reduce my appetite, and am hoping that I can do that by eliminating snacking/grazing. I just ordered your plates and think the 3 meals a day without eating in between makes so much sense. I’m already on WW but am losing and gaining back the same 5lbs.

  14. Hi Amy,
    I am 60 years old, about 160 lbs. I started working out on January 4 of this year at home watching videos, 6 days a week. I will follow your guidelines for 3 meals a day. Losing weight is not nearly as easy as it was for me 20-30 years ago. Heck, if I wanted a flat stomach for a night out I just wouldn’t eat for a day and a half.
    You are young and I am wondering if this 3 meals a day would work the same for me as it does for you. Any advice will be helpful. Summer’s comin’.
    Thank you for your time. Looking forward to your reply.
    Sincerely,
    Teresa

    1. Hi Teresa! I DO! I truly think if you avoid snacks, at any age, you will find it easier to lose weight than anything else you might have tried!! I can’t wait to see your progress. Keep me udated!!

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