A few years ago there was theory that eating every 2-3 hours will speed up your metabolism and as a result will create greater weight loss. As a beginner I was guilty of believing this at one point until I learned how to research and understand scientific studies that disprove myths from the truth. This theory derived from individuals in the fitness industry misunderstanding the “thermic effect of food” also known as “TEF”. This caused many fitness professionals to market their meal plans and/or supplement products as the missing piece to the majority of the populations weight loss struggles. All foods have a thermic effect meaning you body burns calories to digest them. But simply eating more frequently won’t cause greater weight loss and I’ll explain why.
The “TEF” of the foods you eat is a bonus. Trying to control “TEF” will only complicate your weight loss journey so instead I recommend focusing on maintaining a calorie deficit by controlling your total caloric intake versus how many meals you consume a day. Let’s say your at home doing some online shopping on your favorite fitness brands website. You have a 10% off discount code which we will use to represent the “TEF” of food. After about an hour of browsing you’ve added about $5,000 worth of items to your shopping cart which will represent a total caloric intake of food. You check out and pay the balance in full, you end up saving $500(10% of $5000) from the discount code. Now let’s say this website allows you to pay 4 installments of $1,250, for each payment your save $125(10% of $1,250). After all 4 installments are eventually paid off, you still end up saving $500($125 x 4). As you can see nothing has really changed. “TEF” works the same exact way. No matter how big or small your meals are, if total calories are the same, the results will also be the same.
Often times I educated my audience on my Instagram the benefits of certain foods with a high TEF but that doesn’t mean the more you eat, the more weight you will lose. Have you ever seen an insurance commercial or ad that claims you can save on your auto insurance by adding home insurance? Let’s say you’re currently paying $500 for an auto insurance policy and by adding home insurance at an extra $300, you save $100 on your auto insurance. You’ll have to spend an extra $300 dollar to save that $100. If we related this example to total caloric intake for the day, yes you’ll burn an extra 100 calories from “TEF” of foods but you’ll have to eat 300 more calories that will increase your total caloric intake for the day. The number one driver for weight loss is calorie in versus calories out. Therefore it’s definitely beneficial to understand the effects certain foods have on your body but more doesn’t mean better results especially when weight loss is the primary goal.
So if meal frequency isn’t as important as we thought it was, why even do it at all? There are several reasons why you would want to eat more frequently throughout the day:
- To control your energy levels
- To control your hunger
- To prevent bloating after eating
In conclusion if you struggle with the reason listed above, eating more frequently can benefit you. But when it comes to weight loss, everyone should focus on making sure they are not consuming more calories than what their body burns throughout the day. I personally practice meal frequency due to my busy schedule and my intense training regime. I perform better in the gym when I’ve had at least half of my calories for day prior to my training session. But when my goal is to ultimately lose weight, I put more effort in staying within my total caloric intake for the day because that will guarantee that I’m fact in a deficit and I highly suggest you guys to do that same!