Dieters interested in blasting stomach fat and boosting their metabolism should aim for six small meals a day comprised of lean protein and fiber. Eating six balanced meals throughout the day can help dieters keep blood sugar stable, stave off hunger and create an environment that promotes fat-burning.
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Benefits of Six Meals Per Day
Eating six small meals per day will help create a proper energy balance so that you’re never too hungry or too full. Dan Benardot, a nutrition professor at Georgia State University, says that when people stay within a range of a surplus or deficit of 400 calories throughout the day, they are more likely to prevent weight gain and promote fat-burning by keeping their blood sugar stable. When blood sugar drops too low, your body will burn valuable muscle tissue for energy, resulting in a lowered metabolism. Conversely, when you eat too much at one time, your body converts energy to fat, which can lead to weight gain. Eating six small meals per day creates a balance of energy that primes your body for burning fat.
How Much to Eat
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming about 1,800 calories per day for active women aiming to lose fat. Active men should consume about 2,200 calories. This breaks down into six meals of approximately 300 calories for women and 400 calories for men, or three main meals of 400 to 500 calories per day with three small snacks of 200 to 250 calories in between. To avoid overeating, psychologist Dr. Susan Albers, author of “But I Deserve This Chocolate!” suggests using portion control, eating from a plate or bowl rather than the bag, and rethinking snack foods to include more filling options like oatmeal with walnuts.
What to Eat
When planning a six-meal-a-day fat loss menu, incorporate foods rich in protein and fiber every time you eat. Protein and fiber help you stay full longer, and eating foods rich in protein can promote a higher metabolism. According to David Zinczenko, author of “The Abs Diet,” foods such as legumes, nuts, eggs, dark leafy greens, whole grains and dairy products can actually help you burn stomach fat. Aim to incorporate fat-burning foods into each mini meal.
Sample Meal Plan
A breakfast high in protein, such as an egg white sandwich on a whole-grain English muffin, offers a healthy start to the day. Snack on yogurt with berries and a teaspoon of peanut butter mid-morning. For lunch, opt for a turkey wrap with hummus and vegetables. Keep your metabolism going mid-afternoon with a serving of almonds and an apple. For a fat-burning dinner, try a vegetable stir-fry with chicken, beans or tofu. End the night with a protein shake or ¾ cup of high-fiber cereal with low-fat milk.
- Health.gov; Dietary Guidelines for Americans; 2005
- “Women’s Health”; Nibble Nation; Goldman, Leslie; September 2011
- The Abs Diet; “Focus on the Abs Diet Power Twelve”; Zinczenko, David; 2010