Ideas For 6 Meals a Day Plan
Fitness

Ideas For 6 Meals a Day Plan

You love food. We love food. So why not eat six meals a day? You may be thinking that this could lead to some serious weight gain. And in some cases, it can. But here we are talking about a six-meals-a-day plan to help you lose weight! 

The thing with the 6-meals-a-day plan is that you must be well-thought-out. This means some prep work and planning ahead is a must. Luckily if you don’t know where to start, we have made this ultimate guide on what to do! 

Let’s get cooking! 

The Science Behind Eating Six Meals a Day

carousel

Before getting into what to eat when it’s important to understand the upside (and the downside) of eating six meals daily. Several studies have shown conflicting evidence, which is why there hasn’t been a solid conclusion on the effects of 6 meals daily. Having said that, here is what we do know. (1)

  • Saving your calories for the end of the day for a big dinner has been detrimental to weight loss. The later we eat, the harder time our s=metabloisms have digesting the food. 
  • Sticking to six meals a day means that the meals need to be smaller and in somewhat proportion to your three larger meals a day. Those who did eat six meals a day found themselves hungrier more often. 
  • The Malmo Diet and Cancer study did report a lower risk of obesity and various diseases. A European study confirmed this showing six meals a day controlled blood sugar levels. (2)

So when it comes down to the facts, how successful you are, depends on what you are eating and how much of it you eat. Let’s dive into a plan that works. 

How To Space Your Meals

top view alarm clock white plate with knife fork white background intermittent fasting ketogenic diet weight loss meal plan healthy eating concept 739531 66

The key to eating six meals a day means proper spacing and keeping a schedule. At first, you may find yourself overly hungry at certain times of the day or not hungry at all. It takes a little bit of time to train your hunger and eating habits. 

Aim to space your size meals out every two hours, which means that you will eat over 12 hours. It’s better to start your day earlier than later. If you don’t eat breakfast till 10, you will finish at 10 PM. Remember, digestion later at night is not as easy on the stomach. So it’s recommended you start your first meal between 6-7 P.M. 

You also don’t have to space out your last meal or last two meals exactly two hours from each other. In fact, you can cut the time down to an hour. 

So two example schedules could look like this. 

Breakfast: 6 AM

Meal 2: 8 AM

Meal 3: 10 AM

Lunch: 12 PM

Meal 4: 2 PM

Meal 5: 4 PM

Dinner: 6 PM

Or a later start can look like this. 

Related Post:  Hot Yoga Weight Loss

Breakfast: 7 AM

Meal 2: 8 AM

Meal 3: 10 AM

Lunch: 12 PM

Meal 4: 2 PM

Meal 5: 4 PM

Dinner: 5:30 PM

The Meal Plan

Six tips for smart meal planning via Henpicked

Let’s break down what each meal could look like with several substitute options. Something to remember is your calorie intake verse what you burn. This is significantly easier if you have a smartwatch or something to track how many calories you are burning throughout the day. 

Ensuring that we are not eating more than our total calorie burn per day is essential for weight loss. And with exercise every day, we are able to either lose weight faster and/or eat more calories to fuel our bodies.  

We also count in approximate calories, but you must read the labels of your snack options to keep accurate counting. 

Breakfast and First Meal of The Day

Starting the day out right is important. We get our energy started with breakfast, so making sure you kickstart your metabolism matters. 

apricot bread and yogurt

Option 1:

– Greek Yogurt topped with fresh berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are great) 

Approx 100 calories

– Slice whole wheat toast with nut butter for protein

Approx 150 calories

Option 2:  

– 1 Hard boiled egg

– 2 slices of tomato 

– Cottage cheese 

You shouldn’t feel bad about spending your calories in the morning because this is when we need our energy. Not all calories are the same, as healthy calories will convert to lean muscle and burn healthy fats. 

Meal 2 or First Snack

homemade pimento cheese spread

Option 1:

– Cut up vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, etc., paired with Tzatziki or hummus. 

Approx 200 calories

Option 2:

– Wheat crackers with nut butter

Approx 200 calories

Meal 3 or Second Snack

recipe berry passionfruit smoothie bowl

Option 1:

– Smoothie with Greek Yogurt and frozen berries

Approx 300 calories

Option 2:

– 1/2 cup of mixed nuts 

Approx 400 calories

Lunch

Lunch is your mid-day meal, so there is no reason to calorie cut here. In general, your dinner should be the lightest option. Here are a few lunch options to consider. 

Option 1:

– Wheat turkey wrap with lettuce and other vegetables. Use a mustard or low-fat dressing to add flavor. 

Approx 400 calories

CleanFoodCrush Clean Eating Recipe Salmon Kale Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing

Option 2:

– Salmon cooked on top of a spinach and kale salad. Again, use a low-fat dressing and add healthy seeds for more healthy fat. You can add vegetables like tomato, onion, peppers, etc., for flavor. 

Approx 400 calories

Meal 5 or Third Snack

Option 1:

– Mini whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and cut-up banana

Approx 300 calories

organic apples and peanut butter

Option 2:

– Apple slices with peanut butter

Approx 300 calories

Dinner

For dinner, we give two contrasting options because you may want to eat lighter or something with a little more substance, depending on your calorie choices. If you have chosen heavier meals, opting for a salad to end the day is not a bad choice. If you need to get some more calories under your belt, a protein-packed steak, and rice combo works. 

Related Post:  How Many Burpees Equal 1 Mile Run?

Option 1:

– Green salad with chickpeas for protein and olive oil

Approx 200 calories

2271146065 d2efe343f4 b

Option 2:

– Flank steak with salsa and brown rice

Approx 400 calories

While these are also recommendations, the best thing you can do is to download an app like MyPlate or MyFitnessPal and keep track of what you are putting in your body. These are rough estimates based on a sample serving. You also can substitute different food in to fit your own dietary restrictions. 

Portion Control and Counting Calories 

7 6130abc7ab1fa

In order for the above diet to work, it’s important to consider portion control. It’s also important to understand calorie intake and output.

  • Women are recommended to consume around 2000 calories a day, while men are recommended to consume around 2500.  (3)
  • If you are exercising rigorously, it is crucial to refuel your body and eat the minimum of recommended calories per day. You may even add more calories depending on how long and intense you have exercised.  

For Example: If you are trying to lose one pound a week safely, then you will need to have a deficit of 500 calories a day. If you are burning 2000 calories a day, then your goal would be to eat 1500 calories over your six meals. If you are also exercising and burn an additional 350 calories daily, you can increase your intake to 1850 calories a day. 

Is This Meal Plan Family-Friendly?

Eating family meals with a toddler narrow

Something important to consider is that this meal plan and type of diet are meant for adults. This does not work for young children or teenage kids who are still growing.

This is a diet or meal plan that you can do with a partner but not so much with a family. Kids are likely to snack and eat many meals throughout the day, but their calories don’t usually need to be restricted unless recommended by a doctor. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

There can be a lot of confusion and concern around eating six meals a day. So, let’s take a look at the most commonly asked questions. 

How do you divide 6 meals a day?

The best way to divide your meals up is to follow the plan recommended above. Technically speaking you can put more snacks in the afternoon but it’s better to consume the majority of your calories in the morning because our stomachs digest them better this way. To be precise, our bodies generally digest best between 10 AM and 2 PM (4). 

You can also use the method of fasting while following a six-meals-a-day plan. If you eat most of your meals with portion control and calorie intake during an eight-hour period, you are following the 16/8 fasting method. 16 hours of fasting and an eight-hour time frame to eat. 

Related Post:  All About the Bean Diet

Is It the same diet plan that bodybuilders use?

Yes and no. Yes, bodybuilders often follow six meals a day plan as well. But there is a difference where they are trying to get lean and gain muscle, whereas many following it are trying to lose weight and curb their blood sugar levels. Having said that, if you are trying to put on muscle and gain a healthy but lean weight, you can change your calorie intake and keep the same healthy foods. 

The reason bodybuilders use this method is that it keeps their bodies continually digesting food. This can help with metabolism and keeps their body filled with nutrients that they need to perform and work out. If you are not working out as rigorously as they are, the method won’t work as well. 

Can you eat eight meals a day?

While there is no science behind eating eight meals a day, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. But the rules of portion control, calorie intake, and eating in a certain time frame will still apply.. The theory that could go wrong with eight meals a day is that you may end up feeling like you are just snacking all day long. 

We still need some decent portion meals with protein, and our main meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) need to allow for those larger calorie intakes. This type of meal plan also may lead to skipping some meals or losing track of calories. 

Give It a Go

If you are going to try the six meals-a-day plan the most important thing to remember is that you need to stay disciplined. This means eating snacks with the right calorie count even when you aren’t hungry. Or the hardest point is not overeating when you think you are hungry. This can take some time to adjust because our stomachs may be used to a certain portion of food. 

In general, it can take a few days and maybe even one to two weeks to really get used to this type of eating. The hardest days are the first few, so sticking with it early on will help you find success in this diet quickly. And remember, if you are exercising, it is important to still continue to fuel your body. 

Lastly, mix up your food as much as you can within the calorie recommendations. When we start to get bored is when people will either break our diet or skip meals. Keeping things fun and easy is a good way to stay on track. 

References
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520689/
  2. https://www.emjreviews.com/diabetes/congress-review/review-of-the-53rd-european-association-for-the-study-of-diabetes-congress-2017/
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/food-and-diet/what-should-my-daily-intake-of-calories-be/#:~:text=Generally%2C%20the%20recommended%20daily%20calorie,women%20and%202%2C500%20for%20men.
  4. https://wrcameronwellness.org/blog/the-best-time-to-eat-your-meals/

You may also like...