How Often to Eat to Lose Weight

Endless googling in the crusade for fat loss will reveal a number of different theories on the best way to accomplish the feat.

You will find everything from what to eat to how much to eat to when to eat.

The long of the short is that at the end of the day it will always be about calories in versus calories out. But is it that simple?

In a word: “yes” - but others believe it may not be.

You see, according to diet trends floating about the blogosphere, the frequency in which you eat may play a role in your overall fat loss potential.

How you ask? Well, you know the old homage you should eat every 3 hours or 6 small meals a day?

This idea of frequent meals or snacks has long been advocated to promote fat loss. This was until after a study disproved the idea. One such study was published in the Journal of Obesity (Silver Spring) where researchers found the opposite to be true.

They say increasing meal frequency from three to six each day could increase hunger and your desire to eat.

Say what? Yes, eating frequently can make you fat but this also proves it's still about how much you consume versus how much you move.

And still there are folks who say not so fast. Some celeb fitness gurus believe that you can biologically hinder fat loss by frequent eating.

They believe since frequent eating provides a continuous fuel supply, you are ultimately preventing your body from using/burning stored fat. It makes sense, right? Um, yes and no.

When food (otherwise known as energy) enters your body, the process of glycolysis begins.


Glycolysis is one of the body's energy pathways.

It's a 10 step process that involves a bunch of enzymes breaking down larger carbohydrate molecules into simpler forms such as glucose.

The end result of this breakdown is the production of energy molecules called ATP.

This ATP can then be immediately used by the body to run, jump or perform a funky rendition of Beyoncé 7/11 dance. Whatever your heart desires. This immediate accessible energy or "frequent meals" are what some believe to prevent fatty acid oxidation, another energy pathway for the body. This pathway is what everyone wants to happens.

When there is no food or incoming glucose to be used as energy, this fatty acid oxidation pathway kicks in and starts to break down existing fat aka stored energy in the body for fuel. Hello, six pack right!?

Well, again science and research have to step in. Researchers from the University of Warwick debunked the theory in a 2014 study. The study, which analyzed 24 women of varying weights, analyzed the number of calories burned by those who ate two meals a day when compared to those who ate five meals, and found no measurable difference in metabolism.

Both groups burned the same amount of calories per day. This research both dispels the idea that frequent meals hinders fat loss and that frequency meals promote fat loss.

It still all boils down to counting calories. As long as you have a calorie deficit for the amount of calories you need to move and function, you will lose fat.


  • Ohkawara, K; Cornier MA; Kohrt WM; and Melanson, EL. "Effects of Increased Meal Frequency on Fat Oxidation and Perceived Hunger." 2 Feb. 2013. Web. Cick here to view the source
  • Ellis, M. "Weight Loss: Counting Calories More Important than 'eating little and often.’” 26 Mar. 2014. Web. Cick here to view the source 


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