It has always been thought that eating small, more frequent meals is good for your metabolism. SO many girls ask me if it’s better for your metabolism to eat 3 larger meals or 6 smaller meals. I can tell you now that this is not correct. Eating smaller meals does not affect your metabolism. Let me explain why.
Three things contribute to your metabolism:
- Your resting metabolic rate;
- Your activity level / exercise; and
- The thermic effect of food.
Thermic Effect of Food
The thermic effect of food is how many calories your body burns digesting the food you’ve eaten. It is thought that by eating more frequently, your body will burn more calories during digestion. There is scientific evidence to prove that this is not true. Your body will still use up the same amount of energy digesting 3 big meals, as it will 6 small meals.
What is known though, is that eating foods high in protein and fibre will result in your body burning more calories to digest these foods. When you eat carbs or fat, 5-15% of this will be used up during digestion. When you eat protein, 20-35% of this will be used up during digestion (a lot more!), and fibre is 15-25%.
By far the biggest contributor to your metabolism is your resting metabolic rate. The only exception to this is people who exercise A LOT, like professional athletes. So the best way to boost your metabolism is to increase your metabolic rate. How do you do this?
The best way to increase your resting metabolic rate is to build muscle. Muscle burns lots more calories than fat. This is why lifting weights is important. And by weights, I don’t mean you need to be lifting super heavy either. You can be doing HIIT, body weight exercises or lighter resistance circuits. I have a list of lots of different body weight exercises on my blog here.
Obviously, the more you exercise, the more calories you will burn which will also increase your metabolism. And the more protein and fibre you eat, the more you will increase your metabolism too because of their higher thermic effect of food.
Benefits of Eating Smaller More Frequent Meals
There are however some benefits in eating smaller, more frequent meals. These include reduced hunger and also improved factors in your blood such as reduced cholesterol and insulin. Personally I prefer to eat smaller, more frequent meals because it helps with my hunger. But overall, it does not help with your metabolism.