Are Small Meals Really Better For Weight Loss?

You may have heard the diet advice that eating several small meals throughout the day would help you lose more weight than eating three large ones. But that advice might not be right for everyone — how you spread your meals out throughout the day will vary depending on your genetic makeup, your eating preferences, and your schedule.

Eating small meals throughout the day may help you lose weight, according to some experts. This is largely because, with small meals spread out at shorter intervals, you're less likely to feel hunger and cravings that will lead you to overeat ultra-processed foods. Additionally, five or six small meals throughout the day offer more chances to eat healthy fruits and vegetables (via Harvard Health Publishing).

There are many myths that persist around the idea that eating more meals is healthier: That it can raise metabolism, or keep blood sugar levels stable. Neither has been scientifically proven, though (via Healthline).

In fact, more weight loss-friendly evidence exists around the idea of shortening your eating window — intermittent fasting by eating for only a certain number of hours per day— compared to spreading your eating out over a longer span of hours.

Are smaller meals worth trying?

This style of eating won't work for everyone, and there are no definitive studies that link eating more frequently to sustained weight loss. Some people may find that it makes them snack on less healthy options more often since they aren't preparing full-size meals. It can also lead to more mindless eating — having one of your meals during your work commute, eating another during a conference call — rather than sitting down and eating mindfully, being aware of each bite. For people on a normal office schedule, finding time for multiple lunch breaks throughout the day can be difficult. And of course, if you tend to enjoy meals out with friends, it's much more difficult to eat a small meal while everyone else is eating a full-size dinner.

The bottom line is that if you prefer eating smaller, more frequent meals and find it satisfying and easy to do while eating healthy foods, it's a perfectly fine and safe way to spread out your eating throughout the day. Just don't expect it to automatically lead to weight loss.