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.
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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.