My friend is on this diet where he has 6 small healthy meals rather than 3 big healthy meals. He says it is healthier to eat the same meals spread apart throughout the day. Now to avoid comparing Apples to Ice Cream, let's say the 3 meal diet and the 6 meal diet contains the same food in the same quantity. Will the 6 meals really be healthier than the 3? And what are the actual health benefits of the 6 meal diet oppose to eating the same food in 3 meals?
Both these schedules, ie., 3 meals a day and 6 meals a day, can work well for different type of people.
Let’s look at the benefits of eating 3 meals a day first
This schedule often works well for most of us in the long term as we are used to the breakfast-lunch-dinner that we eat at home. Mostly, people do not want to eat immediately upon waking up (generally it’s a couple of hours after waking up). More often than not, most of us do not feel like eating after breakfast till it is lunchtime. Three-meal schedule allows you to eat bigger meals and this is where six meals a day theory becomes a problem for those who love to eat big and are trying to lose weight. Six small meals will never make you feel that you have eaten enough; you might feel like you are just snacking and it makes you crave for more. So, three-meal schedule teaches you to take control of your hunger better whereas eating six times a day tends to make you eat more, as you end up eating every 2-3 hours irrespective of the fact that you are hungry or not.
Now, let’s look at the benefits of 6-meals-a-day schedule
It could be an ideal plan when you are required to a lot of calories to gain weight or if you are a sports person who burns a lot of calories. Also, it’s something you want to follow if you are someone who needs to consume high amounts of protein as our body can only assimilate and absorb between 30-40 grams of quality protein per meal. Therefore, this schedule is ideal for people who want to limit protein intake to about 15-40 grams per meal. Another benefit of 6-meal-a-day plan is when you are required to consume large amounts of carbs. It can also help you to maintain your sugar levels. For some, especially diabetics, it could be a tough ask to go on for more than 3-4 hours without eating anything and smaller frequent servings would work well to maintain stable energy/sugar levels.