Weight Loss
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Eating every three hours a myth

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Hello everyone,

I wanted to share this based on my own experience. When it first started being said in the media that eating every three hours boosted your metabolism I bought into it. However, after thinking about it, I realized that eating every three hours couldn't possibly boost it because your body needs time to digest the food and three hours simply isn't enough time. You're just making your body work harder while it should be doing other things.

I found this article that confirmed what I had been thinking.


Dr. Steven Schnur's Top 5 Diet Myths!

Myth #5: If I don't eat every three hours, my body will go into starvation mode and my metabolism will shut down.

Reality: Clocks were invented long after human beings. Your body will go into starvation mode only if it's starving -- that is, if it doesn't have enough calories to sustain its basic cellular functions. Just because you feel hungry, experience cravings, or have low energy doesn't mean you're starving. It just means that you've trained your body to expect food at certain intervals, so your gastric juices start pumping in expectation. The only thing you'll do by eating every three hours is ensure that you'll be hungry every three hours -- the last thing you want to do if you're trying to lose weight.

Training your body not to be hungry between meals is no different than training a toddler to use the potty. By lengthening the intervals between courses, you eventually will lose the urge to eat to frequently. Of course, you don't want to leave such huge gaps between meals you become ravenous and binge. Your ultimate goal should be to eat three satisfying meals a day with an occasional snack and not be distracted constantly by thoughts of food.

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=fitn ess&id=4345046
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Well, maybe eating every 3 hours or grazing all day or whatever works for some people.  If I did that, I would DEFINITELY overeat.  I really don't get between-meal cravings all that much.  My problem was meals that were too big, and content that was too junky.


So now I eat smaller meals of better quality, 3 meals a day, with a snack of plain yogurt and fruit most days.  As my stomach has shrunk in response to the smaller meals, I've found that I get stuffed by small meals now.  I feel like if I ate mini-meals all day long, I would be perpetually unsatisfied.


But again, maybe it does work best for some people - as long as the daily calorie count is within reason, it should be fine either way.  3 meals a day for me, thanks. 

I have never eaten every three hours because it doesn't work for me, but there are some very serious proponents on CC so get ready for their wrath for calling it A Myth. :-)

I have some significant hunger issues, but I came to the author's same conclusion on my own. I think that if I adhere to a schedule long enough, my body will eventually get tired of throwing tantrums and chill out until the next meal time.

About metabolism: Some here have been lectured about the time of day they eat because, it is claimed, the metabolism slows at night and makes consuming food too late in the day a problem. I understand and accept the concept of metabolism, and that it varies. I am skeptical that it speeds up and slows down quickly as if we were applying our foot to an accelerator and backing it off. 

I don't claim to know, but I think a healthy skepticism of anything we read about food is a good idea. 

Me too. I eat at a specific time every single day. My nutritionist said it trains my body to expect a meal at the same time and it will not freak out. I don't get hungry in between meals. I also choose more quality foods.

I expect wrath for this post, but I don't need everyone to agree with me.

Everybody is different.  Just because one thing works for one person doesn't mean it will work for the next person.
For a diabetic a constant sugar level is a must.
If you are not a diabetic then three meals might work better.

Also if you scrolled down to the bottom of the news letter, there were four diet links in the advertising section.

I'm a 3 meals a day and no snacks except at night  usually.  I don't get hungry if I eat well for my 3 meals.  If I eat small meals I'm always hungry all day and then tend to overeat.  I'm one of those who needs to get full on healthy foods then not eat again until I'm hungry.

I know some people can do the small meals with success but its not for me. 

Original Post by spoiled_candy:

Everybody is different.  Just because one thing works for one person doesn't mean it will work for the next person.
For a diabetic a constant sugar level is a must.
If you are not a diabetic then three meals might work better.

Also if you scrolled down to the bottom of the news letter, there were four diet links in the advertising section.

 _______________________________________ _____________

I'm not sure what links have to do with anything. Most advertising links are based on the topic of the article and have nothing to do with the article itself. If you're on MySpace, the advertising links will invariably be on things you're searched on your computer recently. Advertising is smart like that.

That being said, the article comes from this book, which can be read in it's entirety online- for those who are interested.

 http://books.google.com/books?id=2YV2bZga3V8C &pg=PA26&lpg=PA26&dq=eating+every +three+hours+myth&source=web&ots=cGDi BPFmVu&sig=uiq9g-Wn-u3i61TNUJWULcXftDY#PP R11,M1


I am one of those that eat 5-6 small meals everyday. It works well for me and has kept me from pigging out at any one meal. As I said it worked for me and I lost weight. But that does not mean it will work for everyone. No has the same body or the same metabolism.

 I am really thinking about going to 3 meals and a snack.   I have always bought into the 5-6 small meals a day thing, but I am always ravenous by the next meal, and I am never satisfied after eating a tiny meal.

and........If I just did 3 meals a day, I wouldn't have to constantly be thinking about my next meal either....which gets to be quite time consuming.

Original Post by momto2siameses: I am one of those that eat 5-6 small meals everyday. It works well for me and has kept me from pigging out at any one meal. As I said it worked for me and I lost weight. But that does not mean it will work for everyone. No has the same body or the same metabolism.

 I'm with you on the important point: We're all different and if it works for you, there's no reason to change it.

Eating something every three hours doesn't mean gorging yourself all day long... Unless I had a HUGE meal, I get very very hungry at the three or four hour mark and if I go too much longer than that without eating and I'm active (being asleep in bed at night doesn't count...) I get sick (and the longer I leave it, the sicker I get...) Since I don't enjoy blinding headaches and feeling sick to my stomach, I give my body what it wants and we're both happy. So my body definitely demands it! It may be different for somebody else...

A typical days schedule for me is:

- Get up at 7.30/8. Breakfast at 9.30/10. Lunch at 12.30/1.30. Snack at 3.30/4. Dinner at 6.30/7. Dessert/snack at 8/9. quit eating. Go to bed between 11 and midnight.
If I don't eat that snack in the afternoon I have to have dinner at five because I'm STARVING, and then I have to have more to eat in the evening.

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The reason I eat 5-6 small meals a day (or even spread that into 8 if you count snacks) is because it helps me get used to filling up on small portions. I am hungry about every 3 hours or so-- but something like an apple or a small plate of broccoli or a nutrition bar satisfies me if I've been eating this way.
I also tried the many-small-meals-method and constantly felt hungry, never felt satisfied, always looked towards my next meal. 

I really don't think it affects metabolism either.  And I feel the same way about breakfast.  I have never been a breakfast person.  With the mini meals thing, I ate breakfast, and was hungry all morning long.  Hungry to distraction.  Now I am back to eating when I am hungry and counting cals and watching portion sizes.  I feel better and - more importantly - not obsessing about food the way I was when I was eating all the small meals.
i've always thought it was a myth..thanks for confirming it.
Original Post by ninaiscool12:

i've always thought it was a myth..thanks for confirming it.

It's a myth that has helped me lose over 102 pounds. GO figure... lol.


It does affect metabolism as your body working to break down the food is a fact. Doesn't mean everyone has to do it but it's just what it is. Same with breakfast, I don't get people who don't eat breakfast. I eat at 7am, 10, 12, 3, and 6 and am never hungry. I haven't skipped a breakfast in 6 months now and I eat things that keep me full with fiber, protien and complex sugars like in fruits.

BTW, if I post a few articles saying it's true that 6 small meals is ideal will that change everyone's opinion back? Jeez... lol.

I eat 3 meals a day and 3 snacks.

breakfast: 7:00 am

snack: 10:00 am

lunch: 11:30 or 12:00

snack: 3:00 pm.

dinner: 5:30 p.m

snack: 8:00 or 9:00 pm

give or take some time of course. this keeps me personally from going nuts with food. I have been losing without any problems or any platues. 50 pounds down as of today with maybe 10 more to go. lost it in about 5 months (a little short of that) so the eating every 3 hours or so has worked well for ME. :)
Ha I just discussed this with my bf last night. He's heavier than me now, was the other round before.

I am all for the 6 meals a day thing because I know that it keep my blood sugar level steady and doesn't leave me energy ups and downs throughout the day. So yes it works for me and incredibly well at that.

Eating 6 meals does not mean overeating just because you are at it more than other people. However I agree that the body can be trained when to be hungry and when not.

I have the same thing if I go more than 3 hours without a snack I get hungry and start feeling nauseous because I'll feel so hungry.

And in complete and utter agreement with archer I eat at 7am / 10am / 1pm / 3pm / 5pm / 8pm and I'm never hungry or starving.

But I also agree that this way of eating is not for everyone, like my bf for instance.

What really got me convinced that it is indeed better to eat smaller meals is an email I got from another cc member a while ago I'll edit my post in a bit to add it.


Adding the explanation mentioned above.
As put by scubelli:

Realize that your body is only able to utilize so much at a time.  If you are eating like most do...3 meals a day that are bigger in size...your body can only use so much of that for energy to survive and stores the rest.  You with me here?  :)  So, if yuo begin to feed it only every three hours smaller meals...it is able to utilize what you are eating in its entirety and not store any.  In fact, more often, it will need more to keep running all day and will then tap into your storage if you are not snacking.  If you are snacking in between meals, it will just take what you are snacking on...leaving your storage there. 

It's a heck of a lot easier to understand that it works when you understand what is physically happening.

It actually will get to a point wher eyour stomach is screaming at you to feed it.  And usually you feel that way in 2.5 hours on the dot.  Your body becomes an efficient fuel machine. 

Its kinda awesome how this works. 

The bottom line for me the above makes sense to me.

And since the "storage" (= FAT) is what I want to get rid off, this works for me.
Well, I eat every 2 or 3 hours, sometimes sooner, 3 meals and 3 or 4 snacks a day and have lost 50lbs since June. True for me!
It depends on your gols - but your body cannot store protein and completes digestion of the protein in your food in about 2-2.5 hours. After 3 hours you'll experience a dramatic drop in free amino acids in your blood serum, as your body has then finished putting available protein to use in building muscle or into adipose storage depending on your energy needs.

 If you're working out on a regular basis, this becomes very important as even, regular meals spaced about 2-3 hours apart is optimal for sports nutrition. If your diet doesn't include exercise or only mild, non-panting cardio like yoga or pilates that isn't as much of a concern since you aren't putting enough stress on your body to make it grow new muscle.

 So which is ideal for you depends quite a bit on a combination of factors - if you aren't working out hard enough to put adaptive stress on your body, and you are likely to stress out if you don't eat until you feel full, 3 large meals may be more your speed from a mental standpoint.

 If your're working out to a more rigorous schedule with resistance training or panting cardio like treadmill running or bicycling, 3 meals a day leaves you with a suboptimal nutritional profile for your needs. It may still be what you decide to do on account of how it affects you mentally, but you're limiting your body's recuperative capacity and the results you'll see from your workout schedule by only letting it have the protein neccesary for repairs about half the time. (3 hour protein window. 5-6 hours between meals. 2-3 hours where you body doesn't have available amino acids to do the neccesary muscular protein synthesis.)

 Also, the thermic effect of feeding is greater with smaller, more frequent meals - you're forcing your body to use stored fat for the energy to break down and digest the food you're eating, and if the meal is small enough that you're not in a momentary positive energy balance your body won't have excess food energy to store as fat. This is a more complicated way of saying what Scubelli did :)

 Anyway - I think that the doctor is hinting at but doesn't explicitly say is that without rigorous portion control and calorie counting, it's easy to overeat on the 6-meals a day schedule. From that perspective it's better to limit food intake to 3 times a day on account of it's harder to overeat on that schedule.

 For anyone who is in fact doing rigorous portion control and calorie counting by being here, and who are working out on a regular basis, the doctor's advice is less than helpful. Eating that way will limit or stall your body's adaptive response to your workout regime - you'll do considerably less well than you could have done.

 But if following the doctor's advice helps you stick to a diet plan because it's easier on your mind than the technically superior method, by all means go for it.

 (Edited to add:) But reading the book preview convinces me the good doctor is on crack. He advises against lifting weights for fat loss purposes, and advices you to stick to aerobics class or other steady-state cardio. Yeah, that's pretty much the exact wrong thing to do - the elevated metabolism and post-exercise calorie burn from hard resistance training means lifting weights works faster than cardio. I'm sure some of you have seen The Hierarchy of Fat Loss before, but it really is an excellent overview of how it works.

 'Course, avoiding cardio is as silly as avoiding resistance training, you need both for an optimal result.  But you'll have faster results the higher up on the hierarchy you work, so a well put together program will ideally start from the top and then add in the other elements as you have the time and inclination to. That said, consistency beats efficiency every time, so what you can stick with over time is better in the long term.
I have to eat every thee hours or I feel misable and i guess what! overeat. Not a myth.
I am also a grazer from way back. I don't like to feel very full so don't usually eat large meals, but even if I do have a big meal from time to time I will still be starving 2 hours later. My boyfriend eats a reasonable sized lunch and then nothing until he gets home from work maybe 7 or 8 hours later- I would have passed out from hunger by then, even with a decent-sized lunch.

When I had a 9-5 office job I was constantly snacking on dried fruit and nuts that I had behind my computer screen.

Everyone is different- it seems from the above posts that grazing has helped some people to lose weight, so it can't be dismissed as a myth.
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