Does Eating More Meals Increase Metabolism?


When I was in the business of going on many of my diets to lose weight, what I was constantly told was to ‘eat more meals it will increase your metabolism’.  And so blindlessly obeyed and increased the number of meals to 6 meals a day.  As soon as I did it, I became constantly starving all the time and consumed more and more food.  ‘See it’s your metabolism firing up’.  But does eating more meals increase metabolism?


Researchers studied Fat Oxidation Rate and Hunger

Researchers from the University of Colorado created an experiment to see if this was the case.  They took subjects with a healthy BMI (<25) and placed them on a calorie controlled diet where the meals were split across 3 or 6 meals in a 24 hr period (the total calories were  the same within a 24hr period for both cohorts).  The amount of exercise or movement that the subjects had was also controlled and consistent between all of the subjects.

What they found was that the there was no difference in the amount of insulin between subjects that ate 3 times a day as opposed to 6 times a day, although the subjects that ate 6 times a day had more insulin spikes.

It was also found that the fat oxidation rate was the same between the 3 meal and 6 meal subjects and that there was no difference in the amount of free fatty acids in the blood.

Surprisingly they found that the hunger and desire to eat of subjects in the 6 meals per day cohort was greater than the subjects eating 3 meals per day.


What does this mean?

What does this mean?  It means that there is no difference to metabolism or weight loss if you eat the traditional 3 meals per day or spread it over 6 meals a day  but you will find that you will be more hungrier.

When we think of weight management, it is best to keep insulin levels stable so eating regularly will decrease the sugar slumps and then opening the top draw and pulling out that delicious chocolate but in terms of the non diet approach to weight management, eat when the body is telling you to eat.

If you have any thoughts on this, leave a comment below.



Ohkawara, K, Cornier, MA, Kohrt, WM, Melanson, EL, ‘Effects of increased meal frequency on fat oxidation and perceived hunger’, Obesity (Silver Spring), 2013, Feb 21(2):336-43


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