There are so many differing opinions on this one. Should you be eating five small meals spaced throughout the day, or only three larger meals? Today we'll be bringing some clarity to this controversial topic.
Let's make one thing clear from the start: Once again, you should first be paying attention to your own well-being. You can give our recommendations a try, then decide if it feels good for you to be eating many smaller meals, or if you feel better eating fewer meals.
What do you have to consider when planning your mealtimes?
Before we provide you with a clear recommendation on this topic, we would like you to familiarize yourself with some factors that you ought to keep in mind:
- After eating a meal, the amount of insulin in the blood increases, and then after some time it drops markedly. Eating fewer meals thus equates to stronger fluctuations in insulin levels.
- Eating often, or even all the time, puts a strain on the stomach and intestinal tract.
- It's important to drink enough water, although not during meals. Drinking too much while you eat can excessively dilute your stomach acid. You should also keep this in mind when reading our specific recommendations below.
- Finally, we also have to mention something about the place of fruit in the diet. It's also well-known that fruit combined with a meal makes digestion more difficult.
The factors noted above have to be kept in mind when evaluating a recommendation for the optimal distribution of mealtimes throughout the day.
No constant snacking, instead clear mealtimes are very beneficial to your health and your weight.
In the guidelines found in the book entitled "Living Without Disease" by Dr. Hiromi Shinya, he shares his discoveries and the following clear recommendations:
- Eat no more than three main meals. From time to time, fewer meals is also fine.
- Avoid eating too late in the evening – ideally your last meal should end at least four hours before you go to bed.
- Aim for a fasting phase of about 16 hours per day.
- Eat some fruit between your main meals, although not too much. The ideal time is one hour before a meal. Ripe, seasonal fruits grown in your region are best, and aim for a lot of variation.
- Drink water between meals, and only drink a small amount during meals.
These recommendations have been very valuable to many of the people who've given them a try. Eating fruits in this way helps you avoid large fluctuations in your insulin levels. Doing some fasting every day gives your digestive tract a break.
The perfect way to distribute your mealtimes might look like this:
- 2 glasses of water at 8 a.m.
- Breakfast at 9 a.m.
- 2 glasses of water at 11 a.m.
- Fruit at noon
- Lunch at 1 p.m.
- 2 glasses of water at 4 p.m.
- Last meal of the day at 5 p.m.
- If you are very hungry have a portion of fruit, but at least one hour before going to bed
There's no need to be strict with this recommended schedule, rather consider how your day normally goes and plan based on the demands of your work and family life.
Source: Dr. Hiromi Shinya, Living Without Disease
Dr. Hiromi Shinya is an internationally renowned digestive system specialist. He is a pioneer in the fields of gastroscopy and colonoscopy. He was a Professor of Clinical Surgery at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Medical Director of the Endoscopy Department at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, and advisor to a number of clinics in Japan specialising in the stomach and intestines. In addition, he lead his own medical center in New York, which focused on digestive health. During his career he has worked with over 370,000 patients, including stomach and intestinal examinations, documentation of people's dietary habits and the development of nutritional recommendations based on his findings. He is now 84 years old.
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