Meal Frequency - Are Big or Small Meals Better for Fat Loss?

It’s often said that eating little and often is the key to losing weight and dropping body fat. In the debate around big or small meals, it’s always the smaller more frequent meals that come out on top as the recommendation from many gurus and coaches for better body composition.

Is this true though?  Does eating smaller meals in the day mean that you fire up your metabolism and burn more energy in the day?  If meal frequency was important then it may be easier to lose body fat by eating more frequently every day.

Unfortunately there’s very little evidence to support such a claim that meal frequency is of vital importance.  In fact the researched evidence goes against the assertion that smaller, more frequent meals can be beneficial to weight loss.

This is due to a potential stimulation of the hunger hormone ghrelin from more frequent meals and combined with a feeling of not being completely full from smaller meals you could actually be stacking the deck against you by trying to eat 6-7 meals a day.

In terms of having a metabolic advantage i.e you burn more calories from eating more frequent smaller meals than fewer big meals, there is more evidence that there is absolutely no difference between the two options provided that calories are matched in the day.

So increasing meal frequency such as eating 6 meals of 400 calories instead of 3 meals of 800 calories (both totalling 2400 calories in the day) makes no difference at all to the metabolism.

Relevant links for this topic from research journals

Effects of meal frequency on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis

Metabolic impacts of altering meal frequency and timing – Does when we eat matter?