As stated in “The Basic Premise of Weight Loss”, losing weight is a number game. In order to lose weight, your daily caloric intake must be less than your daily energy expenditure. So at the end of the day, it doesn’t necessarily matter how you break up your daily caloric intake, as long as you stay within the caloric limit.
For example, if your daily energy expenditure is 2800 calories, you must consume less than 2800 calories per day in order to lose weight. In the following example, I’ll use 2500 calories per day as the daily caloric intake (creating an energy deficit of 300 calories).
Here are different ways you could break up your daily caloric intake:
- You could eat five 500 calorie meals, evenly spaced throughout the day.
- You could eat one 500 calorie meal in the morning, and two 1000 calorie meals for lunch and dinner.
- You could skip breakfast, and eat one 1250 calorie meal midday, and one 1250 meal at night.
The configuration of the number of meals and the amount of calories per meal is endless. The main point is: do what works for you. Everyone is different. When I lose weight, I personally prefer to eat smaller meals throughout the day, and then have one large meal at night when I tend to be the hungriest.
Consider these three factors when configuring when you have your meals, and how many calories to include in each meal.
1.) When you feel the hungriest
1a.) For example, if you tend to have a small appetite in the morning, but feel hungrier at night, eat a small breakfast and save those calories for nighttime when you have a larger appetite. Using this strategy, you will decrease how often you feel hungry, which is hugely important in the success of a weight loss program*.
2.) When you require more energy
2a.) For example, it’s generally a good idea to eat before and after training, when your body is in need of nutrients. Your body needs fuel to perform optimally in the gym, and it also needs fuel for recovery. You don’t necessarily need to consume a lot of calories in these instances, but some sort of energy intake is a good idea.
3.) When it is convenient to eat
3a.) For example, if you are very busy between the hours of 10am-4pm, it’ll be a good idea to consume a filling meal right before 10am, in order to fuel you for the following 6 hours when you’ll not be able to eat much. Weight loss inherently involves a reduction in energy that your body isn’t used to, so it’s best not to go too long without eating something, in order to ensure better mental and physical wellbeing.
3i.) If you live a busy lifestyle, make sure to eat when you have the opportunity. Going too long without eating leads to a precarious combination of hunger, physical fatigue, and mental fatigue. This combination can lead to making poor food choices, and/or binge eating.
Bottom line: Weight loss occurs when you restrict calories to create a caloric deficit . To ensure satiation, space out your daily caloric limit in a way that specifically works for you.
*Here are other articles that focus on ensuring satiation: