Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
Weight Loss
Moderators: spoiled_candy, Mollybygolly, devilish_patsy, nycgirl

Eating every 3 hours, Myth or Reality?

Quote  |  Reply

Hi folks,

I recently read an article dismissing the claim that eating every 3 hours was ridiculous and only led to weight gain. The key issue with this statement is ignorance my friend. Actually EATING EVERY 3 HOURS IS NOT A MYTH, those who are failing are simply practicing this incorrectly. 

An article on this website claimed "eating every three hours couldn't possibly boost it (metabolism) because your body needs time to digest the food and three hours simply isn't enough time." This might be true in the case of overeaters, but not if you have small portions. Grazing was the way our body was designed to eat over millions of years of evolution, and large portions simply burden the digestive system. In the not so distant past our bodies were fed at regular intervals as we scavanged for any food we could find in the wild. Unlike carnavorous predators we ate a diet consisting mainly of berrys, nuts and veg, as well as occasional piece of pure meat, which meant we had a small but constant influx of food through our systems throughout the day.

Studies on a Californian couple who live on a strict diet of lean meat, nuts, fruit and veg found that due to them eating smaller portions more often they extracted the maximum amount of nutrients possible. They also found that although they were extremely light in weight, their bones and skin were unusually healthy. The male who is 6ft 4 weighs only 160lbs or 72kg and he also has a abnormally resiliant immune system and is expected to live between 10 - 20% longer than the average man.


There is no point in trying a diet, or anything for that matter unless you fully understand it's requirements. Otherwise you risk wasting your time like the member at the start of my post had done. With this three hour method please make sure you eat a well balanced diet, small portions smaller than half a full sized portion, drink lots of water and graze at regular intervals of 3 hours or less. Although it is not necessary, excercise at least twice also helps to speed up your metabolism. A general tip regardless of diet plans would also be lower stress levels as this can negatively effects you nervous system and your metabolism also. A good sleep, an early high fibre breakfast and low fat dairy products are also essential to this diet, as these can help you burn between 100 - 400 extra calories with no extra excercise.

Hope I've helped ;)

12 Replies (last)
I have started eating little and often with good food such as sweet potato,chicken breast and veg also started drinking green tea and preparing my food for the next day the night before so it's there when I want it and am less likely to pick a unhealthy option . This is working very well for me lost 6 lb this month :-)

Weight loss happens when you eat fewer calories than you burn, whether you eat 3 meals or 30 is irrelevant.  Eating more meals does not affect your metabolism.  There is no evidence that it does, and the alleged mechanisms that cause it don't make any sense.  

Also humans have been eating meals for thousands of years.  Sometimes it was 3.  Sometimes it was only 1 or 2.  Obesity has only become the problem that it is recently, so I doubt that meal frequency is the culprit.

Original Post by adambass:

An article on this website claimed "eating every three hours couldn't possibly boost it (metabolism) because your body needs time to digest the food and three hours simply isn't enough time."

This explanation is wrong (no clue what article you got it from), but that doesn't change that eating every 3 hours doesn't make you burn more calories, certainly not to the degree that you claim.

If you eat a frequent small meals, you'll get a small TEF boost each time you eat. If you eat fewer, but larger meals, more spread out, you'll get a larger TEF, but less often.

The net result is the same - you burn calories through eating and digestion, but the timing and frequency of meals doesn't matter.

What matters for weight loss is eating less calories than you burn (but not too much less). Some people find that smaller frequent meals helps them stay satiated. Others would prefer eating larger meals less often. It really comes down to personal preference.

I have to agree with certain aspects of this. When I truly eat when I'm hungry, I notice I'll eat around 6 or more times a day but each time I eat something it'll be something super small like a yogurt. Then a little later I'll eat a banana, a little later a handful of almonds..etc. Because I space my meals out so much and they're so much smaller I've noticed that my overall calorie intake is much lower yet I feel fuller, more energetic, and whatnot. Whenever I eat around other people is when I tend to eat bigger meals and I've noticed it always makes me feel hungry later or uncomfortably full..

It does work, I've been following Jackie Warner's New book that recovers food every 2.5 -3 hours. and It been 10 days, and I can see the weigh dropping.

I suggest you guys pick up her new book!

I do agree that eating smaller meals more frequently does enhance healthy weight loss.  It keeps your body burning calories and avoids the starvation response.

Great post, Adam.  A great read that addresses this issue and more is Burn the Fat, Build the Muscle by Tom Venuto.  It is excellent and addresses all aspects of weight loss from a positive, rational, physiological, and psychological approach.


I lost my 90 lbs after having my baby in Aug by doing this.  Also by lots of exercise but I eat every 2-3 hrs, small portions of nuts, fruits, veggies and whole grains.  I feel great, have lots of energy and look better than I ever have.  My family teases me because I never eat a "large meal" but I get full very quickly now and feel better grazing on healthy food. I still eat 200-2500 cals a day doing this though and do not gain.

I have been having good luck with intermittent fasting and a "feeding window" from 12 PM to 8-9 PM.  I eat three meals during this time and am enjoying the larger portions I get at my meals.  They keep me full longer and I don't have to spend so much time planning meals/snacks,  nice for my busy life with 4 young children. I have also lost 11 lbs since Jan with this method, mostly off my abd, which is where I need it the most.  All the studies I have read say total cals is most important for weight loss, not when and how much you eat them.

Tina, I would be interested in reading those studies you cite.  If it's not too much trouble, could you cite some links or study names? I really appreciate it. 

Apr 04 2012 23:04
Member posts
Send message
Quote  |  Reply
I have followed the 6 meals plan for 5 years. The habit is hard to break once you start doing it. I generally keep dinner a larger meal than the others.

I haven't found that it changes metabolism at all. A calorie counts just the same as 3 meals, and I lose or gain depending on deficits.

What 6 meals helps with is regulating hunger. It might fo the same for you, or it might not. It's another trick in the diet bag.
12 Replies
Recent Blog Post
Lisa was once the self-proclaimed queen of yo-yo dieting. She tried everything, but always gained the weight back.  After a family hiking trip, she realized she needed to make a lifelong change to her eating habits, and start treating her body better. Lisa lost over 50 pounds by logging her foods, holding herself accountable, slowly incorporating exercise into her routine, and not beating herself up over plateaus and bad days.

Continue reading...