Are Two Meals A Day Better Than Three?

5th August 2021
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Are Two Meals A Day Better Than Three?

The average person eats three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. For years, we’ve been told that eating frequent, smaller meals will boost your metabolism; this is, quite simply, a myth.[1] These days, the debate we often see from our community of curious members is whether two meals a day are better than three. We’ve dissected the latest science to find out the truth. 

There may be benefits to skipping meals 

TRE (time-restricted eating) is a form of intermittent fasting and a fantastic method of improving your metabolic health. TRE is the practice of consuming all of your daily calories within a window of time, giving your body the ability to rest and repair during fasting periods.

Although the topic is often debated, Dr Satchin Panda found that a 12 hour period away from food is enough to give your body significant benefits. Research is at a relatively early stage, however there is mounting evidence that TRE benefits humans through:

  • improved insulin response, reducing type 2 diabetes risk;
  • better quality of sleep;
  • reduction in inflammatory arthritis;
  • maintenance of muscle mass with weight loss;
  • reduced risk of brain disease, such as Parkinson’s and dementia; and
  • lower risk of some forms of cancer.[2]

Two meals a day vs three meals a day

Although TRE has extensive health benefits and you may wish to start your eating window later in the day, or end it earlier, there is no evidence to suggest that skipping an entire meal (eating two each day, rather than three in the same window of time) has either a positive or negative effect on your health, providing the overall calorie intake remains the same. 

However, many people find it easier to eat two meals over three, while on a calorie restricted diet, like The Very Fast 800, for the following reasons:

  • Allows for bigger, more calorie-dense meals; when you’re eating two meals a day, over three, each meal will be bigger to achieve your daily calorie intake. 
  • Helps to reduce snacking habits; some studies support this by recognising that eating meals less frequently can reduce cravings throughout the day. 
  • Promotes a smaller eating window; for those looking to reduce their eating window to 10 or even 8 hours, it’s far easier to do so when eating fewer meals each day. 

On the other hand, it can often be difficult to ensure you’re hitting nutritional targets when only eating two meals a day; if you prefer to eat two meals a day over three, it’s important to plan each meal with precision to ensure you’re getting the right balance of both calories and protein, which can often be hard to achieve. Without, most people experience fatigue, hunger cravings and muscle loss. 

Luckily, the Online Programme now has a solution to help! Our members requested Two Meal a Day plans and The Fast 800 in-house nutritionist has been working incredibly hard to make this possible. Our Two Meal a Day plans have been launched and you can now give them a go with our 7 day free trial. Whether you’re looking to enjoy two or three meal a day plans, you can do so knowing that you’re reaching the right amount of key nutrients and getting optimal results. 

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I’ve designed these plans, like all of our meal plans, to deliver maximum nutritional bang for buck. When only consuming two meals a day, a balance of calories and protein between both of these meals is especially important to ensure you stay fuller for longer and are energised throughout your day, while still maintaining muscle mass.

Ultimately, these meal plans are designed for your success!

Gabi, The Fast 800 Nutritionist and Recipe Developer

 

The optimal fasting window

The best hours to fast are the ones that best fit with your lifestyle. We recommend, based on evidence presented by Dr Satchin Panda, that you fast each evening for at least 12 hours. This gives us enough time for our bodies to repair overnight, along with enough hours to run down stores of glycogen and begin burning fat, instead of sugar – otherwise known as flipping the metabolic switch.

It all comes down to you

If you find that you wake up hungry, eat a breakfast high in protein, healthy fats and fibre to avoid hunger spikes throughout the morning. This may also prevent overeating when it comes to your first meal of the day. However, if you find that your hunger doesn’t kick in until later in the day, there’s no need for you to force down breakfast. Regardless of what suits you, The Fast 800 meal plans, available on the Online Programme have been designed to help you stay full throughout the day, following a Mediterranean-style diet that can keep your glucose levels in check and boost weight loss. 

 

References arrow down

Cameron JD, Cyr MJ, Doucet E. Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. Br J Nutr. 2010 Apr;103(8):1098-101. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509992984. Epub 2009 Nov 30. PMID: 19943985.

Paoli A, Tinsley G, Bianco A, Moro T. The Influence of Meal Frequency and Timing on Health in Humans: The Role of Fasting. Nutrients. 2019;11(4):719. Published 2019 Mar 28. doi:10.3390/nu11040719

Ravussin E, Beyl RA, Poggiogalle E, Hsia DS, Peterson CM. Early Time-Restricted Feeding Reduces Appetite and Increases Fat Oxidation But Does Not Affect Energy Expenditure in Humans. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2019 Aug;27(8):1244-1254. doi: 10.1002/oby.22518. PMID: 31339000; PMCID: PMC6658129.

Khandpur N, Neri D, A, Monteiro C, Mazur A, Frelut M, -L, Boyland E, Weghuber D, Thivel D: Ultra-Processed Food Consumption among the Paediatric Population: An Overview and Call to Action from the European Childhood Obesity Group. Ann Nutr Metab 2020;76:109-113. doi: 10.1159/000507840. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclnm.2010.10.001

Munsters MJ, Saris WH. Effects of meal frequency on metabolic profiles and substrate partitioning in lean healthy males. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e38632. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038632. Epub 2012 Jun 13. PMID: 22719910; PMCID: PMC3374835.

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