You need to spread out your meals throughout the day so your body has time to digest and utilize the nutrients it needs. If you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, split up your calories and have about 400 for breakfast, 500 for lunch, 600 for dinner and save the remaining 500 calories for a couple of snacks throughout the day. You will feel energized throughout the day if you eat three separate meals and you will be less likely to overeat at one sitting.
Benefits of Breakfast
You often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast is the best way to jump-start your day. Your body fasts for eight hours while you are sleeping. Get your brain and body moving by having that first meal of the day. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reports that eating breakfast helps you maintain a healthy weight and provides important nutrients you may not get if you skip this meal. People who skip breakfast are more likely to snack on high-fat, sugary foods.
You should eat foods from each food group at each meal to give your body the nutrients it needs throughout the day. Choosemyplate.gov is a website designed by the United States Department of Agriculture that breaks food down into groups and lists how many portions you should eat from each group daily. Your body gets energy from the carbohydrates, protein and fat in foods. Eat foods each meal that have each of these macronutrients. Include 3 to 4 ounces of grain equivalents, 2 1/2 to 3 cups of vegetables, 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk equivalents and 5 to 6.5 ounces of meat and beans in your meals throughout the day. Spreading out your food consumption into three healthy meals will provide your body with a constant flow of energy so you do not feel fatigued.
Consistent Meal Times
A study published in the January 2005 edition of "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that people who ate sporadically were more likely to consume more calories, have higher cholesterol levels and reduced insulin sensitivity. Eating three meals a day keeps you satisfied so you aren't as likely to overeat at meals after long periods without food. It also helps maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
Effects on Digestion
Consuming a large amount of calories all at once may cause your body to speed up digestion. You may experience diarrhea because your body is unable to break down all of the food. The important nutrients that your body needs may be excreted instead of absorbed because you consumed too much at once. For example, vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that your body can excrete through urine. Drinking a large glass of orange juice, which is high in vitamin C, may cause your body to digest it quickly and you may not absorb as much of the vitamin. In addition to this, you may feel tired after consuming a large meal while your body's energy is focused strictly on digestion. Avoid feeling fatigued by eating several meals throughout the day so your body has time to digest everything adequately.
Filling the Gaps
You may have a large gap of time between meals. Eating breakfast at 7:00 AM, lunch at noon and dinner at 7:00 PM may cause you to feel hungry in the afternoon or late at night. Fill in those large gaps of time with healthy snacks. Plan your snacks ahead of time to avoid heading to the vending machine or binge eating at lunch. Pack yourself healthy snacks such as whole fruit, nuts and whole-grain crackers. Snacking will help you feel satisfied between meals and will put a little food in your stomach so you do not eat as much at your next meal.
- John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Why you Should Eat a Health Breakfast
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: When to Eat and How Often?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Choose My Plate
- Medline Plus: Snacks for Adults
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.