our thoughts on: 6 meals vs 3 meals to help metabolism

by purelytwins

Hey friends,

Today’s purely talk #11 is about working out fasted and eating 3 meals to help metabolism.

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A reader Jessica asked us back in July, when we mentioned our digestion was improving —>

Do we workout on an empty stomach in the morning? Do we eat 3 or 6 meals? Any changes in our metabolism from eating 3 big meals?

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Great questions Jessica. And we hope we did our best in answering them in the video.

To quickly recap the video:

Yes we workout fasted when we work out first thing in the morning. We’ve been doing it for awhile so our bodies are used to it (been doing this for years). When we workout later in the day, we do eat before. Just depends on our schedule.

Eating before working out will vary from person to person. No one way is really better than the other. It’s all individual based.  There are studies stating that if you are truly trying to lose weight, working out fasted is best. (we will do a follow-up post on this)

Most of the time we eat 3 meals. Occasionally we do snack, especially when we are recipe testing or want dessert. But for the most part we aim for 3 meals.

Again this is a personal thing. Some people do fine on lots of little meals and others do better with less meals that are bigger in size. You will have to experiment to see what your body likes.  Don’t feel stuck that you have to eat one way or the other. It is okay if everyday turns out to be a little different.

We do feel eating 3 meals a day has helped our metabolism for a variety of reasons. We feel each day we are getting stronger in all parts of our life. As we mentioned in our metabolism post, there are a lot of factors that can improve or hurt your metabolism.

There is a lot of information out there about how many meals you should eat. But from what we have read recently there is no real data that says eating 5-6 meals a day is best for metabolism.  If you enjoy eating every few hours and it is working for you, then no need to change things. But what we want to get across is –> that YOU DO NOT have to eat every few hours to help metabolism.

eating 3 meals to help metabolism

From our personal experience we FEEL 100% better when we eat 3 big meals a day over eating smaller meals over the course of the day. Whenever we do have those days, where we just graze/snack all day long, we notice how we NEVER feel satisfied. How we just feel blah all day long.  Now we realize that our bodies and metabolism do BETTER with 3 meals.

One thing we mentioned in the video is that we no longer obsess over food or eating. Our food obsession got quiet. We noticed we can go long stretches of hours before we feel we need to eat again. It allows us to get food off your minds so we can do other things, like…live our life. Greatest feeling!

So what are our final thoughts:

If eating 5-7 meals a day is working for you, you are feeling great and getting the results you want. Don’t stop. Enjoy. But if you are someone like us, who was not getting results or always feeling like blah then maybe try out eating more 3 (or 4) meals a day. See how you do. We have a feeling you will love it and see great results as much as we have! We feel eating 3 meals a day can aid in helping metabolism and fat loss compared to 5-6 meals a day. Just our opinion from the research we have read. Give it a try and let us know how you feel.

We highly recommend you do your own research and make your own conclusions. And as always do what is BEST for your body!

Basically we want people to BREAK FREE from believing you have to follow certain ideas to get x,y,z results. Instead, focus on doing your own personal experiments and learn what works for you that way. You’re the only person who knows what works for you. Just try something for a few weeks and see if it is getting you closer to your goals or not. Do not feel it is one way or nothing. There are a ton of ways to achieve your goals. As we are all unique.

Check out these articles for more information:

Metabolic rate increases when short term fasted

2 large meals beats 6 for weight loss

Top 3 myths about metabolism

Should you eat many small meals each day 

How many meals? Is breakfast important? 

You don’t have to eat 6 meals to get lean

 Do mini meals help you lose weight by raising your metabolic rate?

 Twins Question: How many meals do you eat in a day? Do you believe that eating small meals helps metabolism? Do you workout fasted?

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27 comments

Jojo @ RunFastEatLots August 22, 2013 - 10:51 am

I eat about 4 meals a day. Since I’m a morning person and like to get my workout done first thing, I eat breakfast before and after (so twice!). I eat a (relatively) light lunch and a heavier dinner. I usually get hungry in the afternoon, so I’ll have a snack.

I never work out on an empty stomach because my blood sugar gets really low, my vision gets spotty, and I feel really lightheaded. Just not good for me.

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Laura @ Mommy Run Fast August 22, 2013 - 12:22 pm

Excellent info, as usual!! I’ve been moving a number of my health clients toward 3 meals and seen some great results with it. You’re so right- when we snack all day, we tend to not be as satisfied and it’s easier for our blood sugar to bounce around and are cravings are more out of control. Some people do still prefer and do better on 3 meals with snacks, but I appreciate your reminder that 3 meals is a very healthy way to go!

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purelytwins August 22, 2013 - 1:22 pm

glad to hear that your clients have been liking 3 meals too 🙂

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Sara August 22, 2013 - 1:27 pm

Thank you for this. Eating 5-6 meals a day JUST doesn’t work for me most days and in terms of the fitness world, I often felt I was doing something WRONG by not eating this way. Your post brings a lot of clarity to that. “Basically we want people to BREAK FREE from believing you have to follow certain ideas to get x,y,z results.” I’m on my own weight loss journey right now and these are some words I needed to hear. THANK YOU!

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Jackie @ Beautiful Holistic Life August 22, 2013 - 2:01 pm

Love this post! Eating 3 meals over 5+ meals a day works much better for me. Like you, I never feel fully satisfied if I graze my way the through my day. If I’m eating every 2 hours I’m way more likely just to keep on eating all day. I like having the feeling of a full meal as opposed to a snack for a meal. I’m also trying to break the habit of eatin every 3 hours, so bigger meals makes that easier to accomplish!

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purelytwins August 22, 2013 - 6:55 pm

we are the same

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lindsay August 22, 2013 - 2:28 pm

i think it truly is up to that person, what makes them feel best, like you said. I usually do 3 meals and drink kombucha in between or sometimes a juice or healthy bite sample. Usually 4-5 hr stretches work best. I enjoy sitting and eating a meal too.

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purelytwins August 22, 2013 - 6:55 pm

oh yes kombucha 😉

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Mary August 22, 2013 - 2:44 pm

I have benefitted from 3 large meals a day and I notice I am more ” ambitious” with my workouts when ieat eat 3 big meals. When I graze throughout the day I notice that it’s far difficult to motivate my self to really push during a workout. I am curious though; your “fasted workout”, is it cardio based or strength based? Do you notice a difference if you try to do cardio before eating or strength? Thanks girls. Love all your info and helpful advice.

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purelytwins August 22, 2013 - 6:56 pm

Mary well our workouts are a mix of cardio and strength, so not much difference.

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Caitlin August 22, 2013 - 4:43 pm

i love that you are encouraging your readers to not necessarily follow what you do to get results. that is an issue i take with lots of blogs and it’s nice to see you stay away from that. i personally am an all-day grazer! i feel more energized that way and my metabolism stays revving. but i also tend to not eat before morning workouts. unless i wake up starved, i just am not ready for food first thing, so i will work out and then work up an appetite for breakfast.

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purelytwins August 22, 2013 - 6:58 pm

Caitlin oh yes, we never would tell someone to do what we do. We just share and hopes others try new things and make adjustments in their own lives. Glad you are listening to your body!!

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Brittany @ Delights and Delectables August 22, 2013 - 4:47 pm

I am trying to get myself to 3 meals a day with no snacks, but I can’t break the snacking. I think most of it is psychological since I’m used to snacking, because I find myself snacking even when I’m not hungry.

If I work out first thing, I workout fasted, but if it is later I’m obviously not. 🙂

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purelytwins August 22, 2013 - 6:59 pm

Brittany we struggle somedays too as we love to eat haha

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table August 22, 2013 - 5:36 pm

You know I love this approach – you have to d what feels right to you! Personally, I love 6 meals a day. I was up to 7 but – even as much as I love to eat – that felt like too much effort. 🙂

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Megan (The Lyons' Share) August 22, 2013 - 5:39 pm

Thanks for posting this, it’s great info! Currently, I eat more like 6, but the 3 standard meals are bigger than the snacks. It’s breakfast, lunch, snack 1, snack 2, dinner, snack 3. (There are about 8-9 hours between lunch and dinner due to my work schedule, which is why I feel like I need 2 snacks!). I do very often wonder if I would feel better another way (especially without the large snacks after dinner, which I know make me feel worse but are often “necessary” to keep me working late into the night). It would be logistically tougher, but I think I owe it to myself to try it! How long do you think the trial phase would need to be/ how long did it take before you started feeling better on 3 meals?

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purelytwins August 22, 2013 - 7:00 pm

Megan give it at least one full week if you can do 2-3 that would be great!

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Taylor August 22, 2013 - 10:10 pm

I do my workout fasted sometimes, if it’s the first thing I do in the morning. I usually like to have a my coffee at least or a small breakfast before working out but fasted usually turns out fine too once I get started. I eat 3 meals a day with small snacks in between because I get hungry pretty frequently. I wouldn’t have time to eat 6 meals a day even if I wanted to! But I can manage on the go snacks. Thanks for your input 🙂

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Taylor @ Liftingrevolution.com August 22, 2013 - 10:45 pm

Great post! I agree, different things work for different people. I typically eat 3 meals and 1 snack (which is always a protein shake). I used to follow the 6 smaller meal plan but felt i was always eating so I cut back and know it works much better for me.

I have just started to fast before my morning runs to help with digestive issues i suddenly started having. because my run group is at 5:45, i’m not hungry at all and have been doing much better!

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Liz S. August 23, 2013 - 8:02 am

I eat 6 mini meals per day and it’s been the best for me. I get shaky with just 2 or 3 meals and I also can’t eat big quantities of food at once. 2 of the mini meals are shakes.

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Meg @ A Dash of Meg August 23, 2013 - 9:13 am

i love this post and learnt so much. for so long i had the 6 meals in my head and thought that’s what it had to be, but i’ve learnt through experience just like you that whatever works for you as an individual is actually best 🙂

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purelytwins August 23, 2013 - 10:43 am

yes 🙂 love ya Meg!

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Kaila (@MissSkinnyGenes) August 23, 2013 - 11:15 am

Great post–this is always going to be one of those “hot -button” topics that get people worked up, because there is so much conflicting information about meal timing out in the universe in regards to becoming physically fit….

When I was bodybuilding, I was religious about 6 meals (200-300 calories) every three hours. Religious to the point of fanaticism, in fact. It was awful. I couldn’t go out to eat with people unless it fell into my eating window, and god forbid we had to wait to get seated or the waiter took too long to bring our order…

Even though it’s now been years since I’ve been that fastidious about it, I am still trying to break free from the ingrained eating habit. Fighting to NOT eat when I’m not hungry is hard when my internal clock says it’s been 3 hours since I last ate.

These days, I’ve been taking it easy on myself and just eating what I feel like when I feel like it–so sometimes that means 3 meals and a snack, sometimes that means two big meals, sometimes it’s just little things throughout the day. I’m not trying to force my body into some perfect “shape” anymore–now I’m just trying to let my body mold to the shape that best supports an enjoyable life….

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Eating 4 Balance August 23, 2013 - 1:55 pm

When I eat more than three meals a day my stomach just feels overloaded and like you said- I just want to keep eating. Never satisfied. You’d think it would be the opposite with more spaced out meals but it’s not! 🙂 Great discussion you have going here!

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Heathy August 24, 2013 - 9:49 am

This is so great girls, excellent advice and I like how you said you no longer obsess about food either. You go with the flow, eat healthy and live life. Love it! I agree that when I graze all day I never feel satisfied either. Proper meals are key for me and getting enough protein and fat. I find that a smoothie for a meal leaves me searching for more within 1-2 hours.

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inga August 25, 2013 - 8:44 am

This is exactly what I experienced with my Metabolism!!
I really tried a long time to eat the whole day through. I kind of didn’t feel if I’m hungry or what I exactly need to feel good. And I actually had to deal with gas a lot more than now. Now I’m also trying to eat three Meals, even tough I sometimes try to replace one meal with a smoothie whene I had a late Breakfast or feel like I need to loose weight. I also think it is very very important to listen to your body, but I also know from myself, that this sounds easier then it sometimes is, especially whene your i ´n a hurry or working a lot…

And by the way, I love the fact, that you are always trying to answer all questions 🙂

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