Breakfast, lunch and dinner - for most people, the standard 3 meal tradition is a way of life; unless you're a hobbit and you have second breakfast, elevensies, afternoon tea and supper as well.  

But in humanity's continuous effort to discover the uber-secret miracle chalice of weight loss and the fountain of youth, we can't seem to stop the experimentation.  Today, we'll be briefly discussing the tactics employed by many dieters to maximize their weight loss potential - meal timings.  One BIG meal per day, or 6 small grazing style meals?  Which one is better.  

The ONE BIG meal proponents argue that a large meal once per day prevents you from fitting too many calories into your belly, and allows for 23 hours of "fasting" per day which helps with detoxification and burns up fat reserves.  I can see how this might work in theory, but frankly, the rationale is a bit of a long shot, with the exception that fitting 2,000 calories into your belly in a single meal would be challenging for some people.  The downside is that unless you have a certain type of willpower, many people will eat one big meal, and then be starving again 4-6 hours later.  Their willpower must sustain them until tomorrow!  Indeed for many people, this is a Chinese Food nightmare; whereby the feeling of being stuffed at 12:00pm quickly fades to utter ravenous hunger by the time 6:00pm rolls around.  Only 18 hours left until your next meal buddy! 

Untitled by Daniel Oines licensed under CC BY 2.0

The six small meals per day proponents argue (and rightly so in my opinion), that provided you have the willpower, and nutritional knowledge to keep your 6 meals SMALL, that this strategy is likely to remain the most satisfying to hunger, will keep blood sugar levels more level; which leads to lower insulin output and ultimately less fat.  Again, 6 small meals does not mean 6 regular size meals - make no mistake.  

So which one do I recommend?  Large scale studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the British Journal of Nutrition have both examined the effects of meal timing and size and have revealed a startling revelation - it makes absolutely no difference in the grand scheme of things in the average balanced diet.  If there's one thing that remains constant in nutritional science, it's the simple physics of energy metabolism.  If you're intake of calories is 1,500, and you're burning 2,000 calories per day, you'll burn a single pound of solid fat every week; regardless of your meal timing and frequency.  

The simple fact of the matter is that you need to know what exactly it is that you're eating in terms of calories.  If you feel as though you can eat a 1,500 calorie meal once per day and last until the next 24 meal then by all means; save yourself some time in food preparation and and increase your productivity elsewhere.  If you're shooting for 6 small meals per day, you're looking at 250 calorie meals - very small by any standard.  Gonna eat that sandwhich?  Try cutting it in half and saving the other half for your second lunch.  

Whichever strategy you choose there is one thing you will need; discipline.  Whether your calorie reduced daily intake of food comes in one large packet or several smaller ones, it is simply a matter of personal preference.  Either way, you break the calorie bank and you won't be losing any fat that day.  It's pure and simple. Want to eat more?  Break out the dumbells and hit the track.   

Now it's important that I don't understate the importance of building your calories from healthy foods.  Some point-counting diet programs such as Weight Watchers place little emphasis on the balance of calories, but rather on the absolute number of calories; which while it certainly simplifies the process of weight management; is incredibly terrible for overall health.  Sticking with the above example, you could eat 1,500 calories worth of cake all day and still lose weight, but you'd have to be kidding yourself to think this is healthy.

Instead, build your daily calorie food allotment from real foods with an emphasis on plant based whole foods which will serve as a nutrient dense, low glycemic and high fibre source of nutrition that will keep you feeling full and provide your body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals.  Build in your healthy fat sources such as nuts and seeds, avocado, coconut, omega 3 oils, and lean protein sources of either vegetarian or carnivorous variety and you're off to the races.