Every January, people are scrambling to gyms and diet plans to shed unwanted weight gain from the previous year. Like them, I also jump in with both feet and adding more movement and better nutrition into their regime, but the problem is most people fall off the wagon very quickly. Did you know that 90% of people report failure in their New Year’s resolutions? That’s right, out of 10 people, only one person will successfully do what they promised themselves.
Why is this success rate so abysmal? Bad advice is on the top of my list. People are always looking for sophisticated and exotic ways to solve their problems, when in fact, the simplest approach typically yields very strong results (with minimal effort).
Is everyone 100 years ago obese or overweight? No, not even close. In fact, a famous circus performer dubbed the “Fattest Man In The World” in 1903 wouldn’t even stand out of a crowd today. Where did we go wrong? Let’s try and simplify things.
The Grazing Theory
One of the biggest nutrition myths is that eating multiple meals—five or six—throughout the day will help you boost metabolism and therefore lose weight. It’s the “grazing” theory. Let’s see how it actually stacks-up in the research.
Proponents of multiple meals will cite the increased thermic effect of food (TEF) as a key indicator that your body is working harder—and expending more calories—to process the meals you’re eating. Basically, the more meals you eat, the greater your TEF. The greater your TEF, the more calories your burn. Also, advocates of multiple meals suggest your metabolism will bottom out completely if you don’t eat every 3-4 hours.
This should be great for weight loss! But recently, Dr. Brad Schoenfeld and his research team crunched the numbers and examined all the best studies around meal frequency and weight loss to uncover whether “multiple meals” is really a good nutritional intervention for weight loss.
What they did: The researchers pooled together 15 randomized, control trials comparing men and women who ate three or fewer meals per day, with those people who ate greater than three meals. The studies were all greater than two weeks in duration, had pre- and post-study body composition testing, and were done in adults over the age of eighteen.