Are there benefits to eating 4 or 5 small meals during the day?

Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics
Whether or not someone will benefit from eating 4 or 5 small meals during the day depends on the individual, and what works for him or her. In this video, nutritionist Marisa Moore, RDN, explains why the key is to eat when you are actually hungry.

Yes. Scientists have been looking for the ideal frequency of meals since the beginning of diabetes research. There are many benefits to eating small amounts of food over the course of the day instead of larger amounts at mealtimes. These benefits include decreased blood glucose levels after a meal, reduced insulin requirements over the course of the day, and decreased blood cholesterol levels.

These benefits probably stem from a slow, continuous absorption of food from your gut, which spares your body the work of switching over to a "fasting" state. Also, eating several small meals a day may decrease your hunger and reduce the number of calories you eat during the day. Finally, there are diabetes medications available, such as acarbose, that slow the absorption of food and have much the same effect as eating your food slowly over the course of the day. The practice of nibbling is not for everyone; but if it helps you maintain good blood glucose control and a desirable body weight when doing it then continue.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.