More meals per day increase metabolic rate?
What is the link between the metabolic rate and the daily number of meals you have, and whether increasing the number of meals can be a viable strategy to lose weight faster.
When it comes to weight loss, it is recommended to consume 6 small meals throughout the day. Having 3 big meals a day seems to be getting fatter and it's better to adopt the "grazing" mentality, to skip something 6 times a day. The idea behind the theory is that each meal increases your metabolic rate, so it's better to eat more small meals a day to burn more calories throughout the day. If the heat burns exceed the caloric level at which you have a weight, a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss occurs.
It is true, when you eat, the metabolic rate increases; is called the heat effect of food or the thermogenesis induced by the diet. It is an increase in calorific burns caused by the metabolism of ingested food. Energy is needed to digest, absorb, decompose and use nutrients in food.
But the heat effect of food is proportional to the energy intake of the meal. In 1982, the researchers compared the effect of the number of daily meals on total calories. The participants were fed two or six meals a day, having the same compositions of macronutrients and calories. The experiment was conducted in a calorimeter, a very controlled camera that measures the carbon dioxide emitted by participants and an oxygen user.
So they could calculate exactly how many calories they burned one day. The two meals a day led to two large increases in calorific burns in one day, compared with 6 lower increases in those who took six meals a day. The most important, the number of calories burned to both groups at the end of the day was the same!
The rest of the research that has been done on this subject has shown the same thing: the number of daily meals has no impact on the metabolic rate. The number of times you eat per day does not affect the metabolic rate.
And if you worry that the body will get into the "hunger" mode, you have no reason. It is perfectly capable of long periods without food. In fact, not eating anything longer than 24 hours, initially has the effect of increasing caloric burns, as triggering the release of catecholamines such as noradrenaline, with the evolving goal of stimulating you to find food. After a few days of fasting, your metabolic rate collapses. However, it is good not to be drunk for more than 4-5 hours, leading to moderate increases in cortisol, a stress hormone that still has high levels due to the agitated life we are taking.
The conclusion is that you do not have to eat every two hours. Metabolism can deal without problems with long periods of time without food, and the frequency of meals does not help you lose weight faster or slower, assuming the caloric intake is the same. So you can let other variables dictate your meal schedule, like your daily schedule and workouts.