If you're fond of food, eating two meals a day may seem like a nightmare. But if your goal is to lose weight or your schedule just doesn't allow you the time to prepare and eat three meals each day, taking one out of the equation can simplify your meal prep process and potentially further your weight loss goals.
Less Meal Prep
There's no doubt that meal planning takes a significant amount of time and effort, especially if you try to meet USDA dietary recommendations and eat in a healthy and balanced way. When you prepare your own meals, you can save money, time and investment by making just two meals a day instead of three. You may even find that you have greater incentive to choose healthier foods when you limit the number of times you eat every day.
Benefits: Eating Twice a Day
Restricting daily calories may have some health benefits, too. According to the Cleveland Clinic, restricting calories to lose weight may help improve health issues like arthritis, acid reflux, high blood pressure, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. And according to Harvard Health Publishing, cutting calories might also improve your mood, sleep, and sex drive — even if you're not overweight.
Obviously, the health benefits of eating two meals a day depend on what you are eating during those two meals. You won't see health benefits from eating nutrient-poor or highly caloric meals twice a day, so it's important to plan what you are eating for each meal if your goal is to lose weight.
Weight Loss From Two Meals
If you can limit yourself to eating two meals a day without overeating at each meal, you may be able to successfully build a calorie deficit that will allow you to lose weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, every 3,500 calorie deficit equals about 1 lb in weight loss over time.
If you are planning to lose weight through eating twice a day, it's important to make sure you are still getting plenty of nutrients through well-balanced meals. Plan for healthy, satisfying meals with plenty of protein. Consider heart-healthy fish with vegetables, or Mediterranean diet staples like whole grains with plenty of veggies. Ensure you are getting enough fiber and healthy fat through your two meals a day.
Drawbacks of Two Meals
Although there are many potential benefits of eating twice daily, not everyone agrees that it is the best strategy for health or weight loss. Harvard Health Publishing recommends eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day for weight loss, noting that people who restrict calories can often get very hungry, causing them to choose high-calorie food options like pizza or soda. Eating two meals a day may also not be appropriate for people with health issues like diabetes, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Before you begin a diet of only two meals per day, get approval from your doctor. You may need to eat more often if you are underweight, exercising often, struggling with a medical condition or recovering from surgery or an injury.