Diet myths busted: Eating little and often helps burn fat

April 24, 2013 - Nutrition

dietmyth3There are countless articles and blogs that claim to have the facts about our diet, but how do you know which statements are true and which are false? In this series of blogs, we’re exploring those diet myths to see if there’s any truth behind them.

Myth: Eat often – every two to three hours. When you eat, you stimulate your metabolism and burn more fat.

The truth: This is one diet myth that crops up time and again – not only in the media but it’s advocated by fitness experts, too. Again, this myth is perpetuated by the notion that each time you eat, your metabolism speeds up, thus you burn more calories. So, if you eat a little amount every few hours, rather than three larger meals a day, you burn more.

However, the thermogenetic effect of the food or drink is directly proportional to the calories you’ve just consumed. So, say you ate a diet of 2,400 kcal in one day, eating six small meals of 400 kcal or three big meals of 800kcal, assuming the same macronutrient composition, the thermogenetic effect will be exactly the same at the end of the day.

Similarly, how you split your meals in a day has no impact on the amount of fat oxidised at the end of the day. If you eat six small meals, you will store and burn less fat between meals compared with three meals a day, where you’ll store and burn more fat. The net effect will be the same on either meal pattern. The confusion comes about because even though you do store more fat eating three meals a day, people overlook the fact that you actually burn more fat, too.