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How many meals should I eat each day?

Manuel Villacorta
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

There is a lot of contradictory research right now about mealtimes. Some people say you should eat three meals a day, while others say you should eat five or six. For many people, three square meals don't work anymore. These days, many of us wake up at 5:00 am and stay up until midnight. Plus, we work harder and expend more brainpower, which uses up fuel. You need to eat every three to four hours to control ghrelin (hunger hormone), so depending on how many waking hours you have, you may have four meals or you may have six.

Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good

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Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good

Eating Free reveals why the prevailing wisdom on weight loss--low-calorie, no carbs, high-intensity exercise--sharply clashes with the facts of human biology and human nature, setting dieters up for...

Research related to meal frequency has been inconsistent. There's no strong evidence to support any one meal pattern. Until more studies are conducted, individuals should choose a meal pattern that helps prevent feelings of hunger. Waiting too long to eat between meals can lead to overeating at the next meal. A plan that works for you may include three meals a day or several small meals. A registered dietitian can work with you to develop a personalized eating plan.

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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.