Are small meals more effective for burning calories than large meals?
Sasquatch. The man in the beef jerky commercials. Or is he man? We don't really know, but at least there are some anthropologists who support the idea that he exists.
The myth of the 6 - to - 9 foot man may not be myth after all, with the species naming council, dubbed "Zoobank" officially acknowledging - based on blood, hair, and footprint samples - that Bigfoot could exist.
What's his official name?
Homo Sapiens Cognatus.
In that same vein, what is the official name for 'eating smaller meals will keep your body in a fat burning state?'
It's called "a bunch of b.s."
The rumor that eating smaller, more frequents meals circulated heavily in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Remember, bell bottom jeans and chia pets were still "in" at that time, so take all news from that era with a grain of salt.
Nutritional research is often correcting itself and doubling back on what has been previously reported, but such is the way of life. It will probably always be this way in many areas, as I’m sure you’ve realized something about yourself that you once thought was one way, only to see it much differently now.
Old research used to suggest that because you were eating smaller, more frequent meals, you would be burning more calories because of being in a ‘constant calorie burning state.’
That isn’t so. The amount of calories you burn is directly tied with how many calories you eat at a time. Eat a few calories several times? Burn a few calories each time. Eat a lot at one time, burn a lot once. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).
Side note: the thermic effect of food will account for - at most - 10% of all calorie burning, so how many calories you burn digesting the food doesn't matter. You can see this in the graph below.
The majority of calories burned just comes from what your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is. BMR is not to be confused with BM-R, which means bowel movement-red, something you get after eating a bag of flamin hot cheetos.
Here is the breakdown of how you burn calories:
Guide to terms:
- TDEE: Total Daily Energy Expenditure (total calories burned)
- BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate (amount of calories you’d burn if you were asleep all day)
- REE: Resting Existing Expenditure (aka BMR)
- NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (activities like vacuuming, taking stairs)
- TEF: Thermic Effect of Food (calories you burn from eating)
- EAT: Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (what you burn when you exercise)
Basically, if you eat one big meal vs many small ones, you will burn roughly an equal amount of calories. Plus, there is no such thing as keeping your body in a calorie-burning state.
If you truly want to burn calories –
Let's say you're interested in being able to live a long life without the negative implications of obesity (high hospital bills, less mobility, low energy, people being jerks by looking at you funny), then you need to be in a calorie deficit - eating less than you burn.
Sometimes it can be hard to eat less, but protein and fiber are the two most effective nutrients at keeping you full, satisfied, and keeping away cravings.
If you get hungry an hour after you eat a meal, or if you can't help thinking about those apple fritters - Umm, who eats apple fritters? - throughout the day, maybe it's time for you to get your bag of ProFiber, which has 21 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber to keep you full for hours (it keeps me full for 5).
What does a potential daily meal plan look like for weight loss?
(1750 calorie diet, a 250 calorie deficit)
Morning: ProFiber. Our clients who use this are full for 5 hours. It’s super quick to make, and plenty to keep you satisfied until lunch, with no blood sugar or energy spikes – 350 calories
(cappuccino from Starbucks may run you up another 300 calories, we recommend black coffee)
Lunch: Whole grain tortilla wrap with one cup chicken, tomato slices, lettuce, tbsp. mayo, and cup of of oats + Whey Isolate protein shake. Very filling and high on protein, helps maintain muscle while in fat loss state – 700 Calories
Dinner: 4 oz grilled salmon, high protein pasta with low sodium tomato sauce, frozen vegetable medley, glass of red, and omega 3 supplement. Enjoy yourself! – 700 calories
Nutritional Info from above:
- Total calories: 1735 calories
- Total fat: 55 grams (29%)
- Total carbs: 200 grams (46%)
- Total protein: 110 grams (25%)
- Total fiber: 40 grams
We’ve established that there may be some truth to Bigfoot, but that small meals typically lead to overeating and not being aware of portion sizes. PLUS, it’s been completely disproven that you burn more calories this way.
Take this format, and repeat daily, and you will reap the rewards!