There is no one size fits all for meal frequency as it all depends on your lifestyle requirements. The old school 3 square meals per day doesn’t work for most people to lose or maintain a healthy body weight, control cravings, and sustain a good energy level throughout the day. 4-6 smaller meals tends to work quite well, with the larger 4 meals for those who tend to overeat with more, and 5-6 for people looking to lose weight and kick the cravings.
Having worked with 1000’s of clients both in-person and online I can say this has been the general rule of thumb… 4-6 smaller meals focused around lean protein, healthy fats, fibre, with adequate fruits and vegetables.
Here is what has worked best with my clients in the past.
Tend to Overeat (4 medium sized meals/day)
Maintain Current Weight (4-5 meals per day — 4 solid meals, 1 shake)
Weight Loss (5-6 small meals per day — 4 solid, 2 shakes)
What this looks like for someone trying to lose weight, but also overeats? You can adapt all of the above suggestions to suit your needs. Simply focus on portion control, eating protein at every meal possible, include more vegetables, and drink lots of water. This will keep you full longer and generally a steady constant energy flow without the mid-day crash.
What your day might look like:
Goal: Weight Loss
Energy: Mid-Day Crash
Breakfast — Protein Smoothie (protein powder, almond milk, spinach, frozen berries)
AM Snack — Chia Pudding (chia seeds soaked in almond milk, top with nuts/seeds and fruit)
Lunch — Chicken & Quinoa Salad (grilled chicken, spinach/kale, cooked quinoa, veggies, sliced avocado, olive oil dressing)
PM Snack — Protein Shake (protein powder, water or unsweetened almond/coconut milk)
Workout — Drink Water or BCAA supplement
Dinner — Fish, Sweet Potato & Veggies (broiled haddock, sweet potato, and roasted or steamed broccoli)
Evening Snack — Eggs & Veggies (scrambled eggs and veggies)
The above example shows how you can spread things out within a day to eat 5-6 times, with 1-2 shakes and stay full (but not overeating) and accomplish your goals for continued weight loss.