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What Do Five Small Meals a Day Consist Of?

by
author image Paula Quinene
Paula Quinene is an Expert/Talent, Writer and Content Evaluator for Demand Media, with more than 1,500 articles published primarily in health, fitness and nutrition. She has been an avid weight trainer and runner since 1988. She has worked in the fitness industry since 1990. She graduated with a Bachelor's in exercise science from the University of Oregon and continues to train clients as an ACSM-Certified Health Fitness Specialist.
What Do Five Small Meals a Day Consist Of?
Five small meals per day provides you with constant energy. Photo Credit meal image by dinostock from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

Five small meals per day helps keep your blood sugar in a healthy range, reducing your chances of becoming overweight and developing diabetes. Of course, five meals consisting of mainly rice, potatoes, breads, bagels or cookies is quite unhealthy. Including healthy foods from all the food groups improves your vitality and energy level while decreasing your risk of lifestyle-related diseases.

Calories

The caloric content of your five meals should add up to the total calories you need every day. Post-exercise meals should be higher in calories than your last meal of the night. Women need between 16 to 20 calories per pound of body weight per day and men need 17 to 23 calories per pound every day. If you are doing light activities such as walking around 3 mph, cleaning house or playing golf, eat toward the low end of the caloric range. Engaging in highly intense activities such as running, lifting weights and playing soccer means you should eat the highest number of calories according to the caloric range of your sex.

Frequency

Schedule your meals every two to three hours to enhance the efficacy of eating five small meals per day. Going four hours without consuming a meal causes your blood sugar to begin dropping below your pre-meal blood sugar level. This means cortisol is released to counter the drop in your blood sugar; cortisol promotes the storage of body fat within your abdominal cavity.

Carbohydrates

Large amounts of carbohydrates are found not only in your grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice and pasta, but also in fruits, peas, corn, carrots, milk and beans. Carbs should make up about 50 to 60 percent of your total daily calories, most of which should come from grains. Each meal should have a minimum of a ½ cup or a one slice serving of grains. Double your servings of grains if you do plenty of endurance training. Include a medium fruit or 1 cup in two of your meals and about 1 cup of vegetables in three of your meals. Carbs are the primary source of energy for your everyday activities, including your workouts.

Protein

Protein contains amino acids, molecules necessary to repair, remodel and grow your muscles. Moderately active individuals need about 1 to 1 ½ g of protein every day. If you participate in a strength training or muscle building program, consume 2 g of protein per day. Eat a minimum of 5 ½ oz. of protein every day from lean meats, lean poultry and fatty fish. Include the grams of protein in dairy products as part of your 1 to 2 g of daily protein.

Fat

Fats should be about 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories. Unsalted nuts and fatty fishy are excellent sources of fat and protein because they lower your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol. Cook with olive oil as much as possible. Additional fats like butter and oils should be used sparingly in your meals. You may substitute a serving of lean meat in one of your daily meals for one serving or a ¼ cup of unsalted nuts.

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