If you're trying to manage your weight, you might wonder how often you should eat. While dietary guidelines typically recommend that you eat at least three meals and one snack a day, some people are more successful with weight loss if they eat smaller, more frequent meals. A six-meal-a-day plan may help you to better manage hunger and maintain energy levels. As with any good diet plan, make sure your meals include a variety of foods from all the food groups to meet your nutrient needs.
Start the Day Right
Keep each of your six meals about the same size and low in fat to help keep calories under control. For example, if you're following a 2000-calorie diet, limit each meal to 300 to 350 calories. A healthy meal to start the day might include 1 1/2 cups of plain nonfat yogurt topped with 1 cup of sliced berries, 1 cup of unsweetened whole-grain cold cereal and six almonds. Another morning meal options is a hard-cooked egg with two slices of whole-wheat toast and 1 teaspoon of peanut butter and 1/2 cup of orange juice.
A healthy and balanced mid-morning meal on your six-meal-a-day diet plan might include a 2-ounce whole wheat bagel toasted topped with 1 ounce of low-fat cheese and a small apple. A fruit smoothie made with one small banana, 3/4 cup of fresh pineapple, 1/4 avocado and 1 cup of nonfat milk with crushed ice makes a refreshing and filling option.
Healthy and Light for Lunch
For lunch, try a turkey wrap-style sandwich. Roll 2 ounces of turkey into a 6-inch whole wheat tortilla with lettuce and mustard and serve with 1 cup of vegetable soup and a container of nonfat yogurt. Three ounces of grilled salmon on top of 2 cups of mixed greens with 2 tablespoons of low-fat salad dressing and three nonfat whole-grain crackers is a healthy alternative.
To keep you going in the afternoon, try 1/4 cup of hummus with one 6-inch whole-wheat pita and 1 cup of sliced carrots and celery sticks. Dried fruit and nuts make a good recharging mid-afternoon snack: Try 1/4 cup of unsalted mixed nuts with 1/4 cup of raisins.
Do It Right at Dinner
A small dinner meal might include 3 ounces of beef tenderloin with a plain, small baked potato and 1 cup of steamed broccoli. Or, shrimp kebabs made with 3 ounces of shrimp and 1 cup of a mix of peppers, onions and mushrooms served with 1/2 cup of brown rice and 1 cup of mixed greens with 1 tablespoon of low-fat dressing makes a healthy dinner for your six-meals-a-day diet.
Last Meal of the Day
Finish your day with a light and healthy snack consisting of 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened whole-grain cereal with 1 cup of nonfat milk and a small banana. Another last snack might include 6 cups of air-popped popcorn mixed with 30 peanuts.
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Eating to Boost Energy
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Hummus, Commercial
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Mixed Nuts, Dry Roasted, With Peanuts, Without Salt