Never ever skip breakfast! But wait, maybe you should. Snacking throughout the day will keep your metabolism high! Just kidding, that’s a total lie. Oh, but you know that if you get hungry, your body will go into starvation mode and then you won’t burn through as much energy and you’ll suffer metabolism damage! (yeah…. if you don’t eat for three days.)
We’ve all heard these varying diet ideas. We know to never skip meals, especially breakfast. We’re aware of the dieters who swear by continuous snacking, or who must have their six meals a day, or the classic three-square-meals-a-day loyalists. And the threats about metabolism damage seem to be coming from every side. So what are we supposed to do with all of this conflicting information? We’re glad you asked. We are here to try and clarify a few things up once and for all (or, at least for now).
Should you snack all day long? If you are eating three meals a day, and you get hungry, THEN are snacks OK? Yes and no. First of all, what are you snacking on? It may seem pretty obvious, but snacks can appear to be a harmless cheat. However, if you eat cake, cookies and crackers for your snacks, you’re not warding off hunger effectively and not providing your body with necessary nutrients. If you’re going to snack, make sure it is an intentional choice and going to help you to get the necessary nutrition you need. Check out our helpful list of low-cal snack ideas here and here.
Skipping meals may seem like the cardinal sin for all dieters. Unless, of course, you’re one of the many trying out intermittent fasting. So wait, which one is it? Should we skip meals every once in a while or not? The truth is, it’s up to you. Our bodies are designed to enter “starvation mode” and conserve as many calories as possible. But that doesn’t occur until two to three days of not eating. So if you aren’t hungry, don’t force yourself to eat! This is true even about breakfast. If you aren’t hungry before you have to leave the house, then pack a healthy breakfast so that as soon as you are craving calories, you aren’t forced to wait hours and consume a lion’s share at lunch.
What you’ve heard is true! When you eat, your metabolism goes up and your body works harder to consume the food going through your digestive tract. This has lead some to conclude that remaining in a ‘fed’ state will keep your metabolism working all day long. They’re right! But this is a misleading fact. For example, if you eat three 600 calorie meals a day OR six 300 calorie meals a day, your metabolism will have been working just as hard at the end of the day. The only difference is that it will have been working more steadily throughout the day if you ate six meals rather than three, but that doesn’t mean it will have burned more calories by the end of the day.
So… How Often Do I Eat?
Well, it’s up to you. Seriously! What is going to work best for you? Do that.
The key to maintaining a healthy life-style is doing what helps you to balance your caloric intake and outtake as well as getting in those necessary nutrients. On one hand, all-day snacking does not work for most people, but if it works for you, then go for it. On the other hand, intermittent fasting is a great solution for lots of people, but if your two meals a day become more binge-like than meal-like, try going back to three meals a day, or to five to six smaller meals a day. It comes down to fueling your body with a proper balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals. It may take some experimenting to figure out what lifestyle works best for you, but you can do it!