If you've tried to lose weight in the past, chances are that you've heard the advice to eat smaller meals, but more frequently. Or the 5 meal a day plan. The idea behind it is that you eat small portions more regularly, and end up eating fewer calories. And you don’t feel as hungry throughout the day.
Here are some tips to make the five meals a day plan work:
What are the 5 meals? Your meals should be three smaller meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and then two snacks in between. Build these into your working day and your daily routine.
Plan ahead. Plan out your meals in advance. You could make extra meat and veggies, portion them out, and put them in containers for later. Stock up on healthy foods when you shop and avoid the pre-packaged items. Also, buy some food storage containers in different sizes, to help you store food for throughout the week.
Portion control. This is undoubtedly the most important aspect of the 5 meal a day routine. Overeating can undermine your plan and reduce you chances of meeting your goals. It is an important factor in the creation of the 5 meal a day routine, that is avoiding overeating at main meals due to hunger. This can be done by simply watching your portions. Remember that it takes a while for your body to absorb the food you have eaten, and for your brain to register that you are full. So you may actually be full but just don't realise it.
Protein and fibre. These two nutrients work together to help you feel satisfied longer, and provide much-needed energy. If possible, each of your 5 meals should contain these. This is probably most difficult in the two snacks, as you may not have time to prepare healthy snacks.
Be careful with your snacks. Whilst you will probably focus on eating healthy meals, sometimes it is the snacks that can let you down. Snacks by their nature are eaten "on the go" and this can cause unhealthy food consumption. So try to avoid unhealthy snacks.
What about dessert? Some people say that you can still have dessert, just limit to once a week. We say "not so fast"! Desserts are invariably unhealthy and as a rule should be avoided. If you do want to treat yourself, try some healthy desserts such as organic Greek yoghurt and fruit. Stay away from cakes, ice creams and other unhealthy dessert options. There is little point in undermining your whole regime with a sweet tooth.
Lastly, you should exercise caution, as eating 5 meals a day can make it easier to overeat, because you eat more frequently and can have too many calories in each meal. But the benefits of eating every two to three hours are immense. It can give you more energy, and help reduce cravings for unhealthy foods. In addition, by eating smaller meals can help you lose weight if you choose healthier foods and practice portion control.
So good luck and happy eating!