If you’re fond of food, eating only 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 planning process and potentially further your weight loss goals.
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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 per 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.
Restricting daily calories may have significant health benefits, too. According to a 2006 “Journal of the American Medical Association” article, overweight individuals who were placed on a calorie-restricted diet experienced not only weight loss but also a decrease in blood sugar levels, core body temperature and DNA damage. “Chemical & Engineering News” writer Laura A. Cassiday suggests that calorie restriction may even slow the aging process, enhance cardiovascular functioning, limit muscle damage and decrease chronic disease risks.
If you can manage to limit yourself to two meals per day without overeating, you may be able to successfully build a calorie deficit that will allow you to lose weight. For every 3,500 calories you save, you’ll drop 1 lb. There are also potential benefits to having two normal meals per day and eating or drinking a meal replacement for the third. In 2003, researchers published an article in “Nutrition Journal” stating that overweight participants who drank a daily meal replacement shake lost more weight over a 40-week period than subjects who followed a low-calorie diet and ate the typical three meals per day.
Although there are many potential benefits of eating just two meals daily, not everyone agrees that it is the best strategy for health or weight loss. HelpGuide.org, for example, urges people to eat small meals often rather than restricting mealtimes. “Eating small, healthy meals throughout the day keeps your energy up and your metabolism going,” state the site’s medical advisers. 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, struggling with a medical condition or recovering from surgery or an injury.
- "Journal of the American Medical Association"; Effect of 6-Month Calorie Restriction on Biomarkers of Longevity, Metabolic Adaptation, and Oxidative Stress in Overweight Individuals; Leonie K. Heilbronn, PhD, et al.; April 2006
- "Chemical & Engineering News"; The Curious Case of Calorie Restriction; Laura A. Cassiday; August 2009
- "Nutrition Journal"; Results of Soy-Based Meal Replacement Formula on Weight During a 40-Week Clinical Weight Loss Trial; Steven B. Heymsfield; 2003
- HelpGuide.org; Easy Tips for Planning a Healthy Diet and Sticking to It; January 2011