Number of meals

For years we have heard that we should eat at least five times a day: Three main meals and two snacks. But is this recommendation really correct?

Many small snacks: A menu that guarantees weight gain!

Let's first look at what happens to our bodies when we eat five meals a day. Suppose we eat a sandwich for breakfast. Blood sugar and, after a time lag, the insulin level in blood will rise. After two to three hours, we become hungry again because our blood sugar level has dropped due to the insulin release. We grab our first snack: A sweet snack, a piece of fruit or another roll. Our blood sugar and insulin levels rise again, even though the insulin level has not yet dropped to its initial value. This is followed by lunch, a snack in the afternoon and dinner. In front of the TV we eat chocolate or chips, and drink beer, wine or soft drinks.

As we can easily see from graph 1, the insulin level throughout the day remains at a level at which fat burning is not possible. This is because insulin not only lowers blood sugar but also shuts down fat cells so that fat cannot be burned above a certain level. Whenever the insulin level drops to the level where fat burning is possible, we eat the next meal and our insulin level rises again.

Insulin levels at 5 meals

Insulin levels at 5 meals

If we skip meals, the body switches to "emergency"

On the other hand, skipping breakfast or lunch to spare calories is also not a good idea. After all, what happens if we miss out on meals? The body throttles its metabolism, a kind of ingrained survival program in times of need, and simply burns less. At the same time, the body stores as much fat as possible in its fat deposits during the next meal in order to be prepared for the next "emergency." Instead of losing weight, the body tries to get by with fewer calories and so some people end up suffering from an acute supply deficiency and simultaneous obesity.

Conclusion: Eat two or three meals a day!

Keep an interval of four to six hours between meals so that you keep your metabolism on track and get enough energy for the day, while encouraging the insulin level to drop to a level where fat burning becomes possible again. Only when insulin levels are low can the body burn fat.

Insulin levels at 3 meals

Diagramm: Insulinspiegelverlauf bei 3 Mahlzeiten