Goodbye Flab

Everything you need to know about weight loss

How often should you eat to lose weight?

When trying to lose weight, many peoples’ minds necessarily fixate on questions of food intake. What is a healthy amount of food? When should you start counting calories? Is skipping breakfast to lose weight healthy? Similarly, one of the most important questions to consider is how often should you eat to lose weight? This leads to even more questions, like when should you eat in the morning? And what time should you stop eating at night? Below we dive into some of the answers to those questions, as well as some consideration of meal frequency in the context of specific diets, like the Keto and Smoothie Diets. The primary question: what should you consider when trying to lose weight in a healthy, productive way?

The importance of your diet while losing weight

Many people trying to lose weight may feel at war with their stomach, whether it be an issue of appearance, cravings, metabolism, etc. In actuality, it’s better to work with and in consideration of your stomach. More specifically, you should work towards maintaining a healthy digestive system.

Your digestive system, in simple terms, is responsible for breaking down the food you eat into nutrients that are then used to fuel your body’s functions. Having poor digestive health impairs this process, which can impede weight loss, even if you’re doing everything else right.

How diet can improve your digestive health

There are many ways you can support your digestive health. Eating high fiber foods is a great way do so. The CDC recommends consuming an average of 25 to 38 grams of fiber daily, since fiber helps your body’s sugar regulation, and allows you to feel full for a longer period of time. Similarly, you should include probiotic foods in your daily diet, such as yogurt, berries, and nuts. Staying hydrated is also key to gut health, as water is necessary for your body to process and excrete waste. For the average adult, 2.7 to 3.7 liters of water is the recommended daily intake. Other ways to promote gut health include engaging in regular physical activity and lowering sodium intake. Stress can also negatively impact your digestive health, and exacerbate symptoms of pre-existing digestive disorders. Reducing your daily stress will promote healthier digestion along with numerous other benefits for your whole body, not just your stomach.

The bottom line: stop seeing your stomach as the enemy, but rather a tool, and one worth caring for.

How often should you eat when trying to lose weight?

There is a common myth that increasing the number of meals eaten a day boosts metabolic rates, causing one to burn more fat. However, it is just a myth. Studies show that there is no meaningful difference in weight loss between those who eat three meals a day and those that eat six. Instead, it is the number of calories you consume daily that impacts weight loss, regardless of how they are split between meals.

However, eating more often and cutting time between meals can be helpful in keeping your choices healthy and portions under control. On average, you shouldn’t wait much longer than 3-5 hours between meals, as your blood sugar will begin to drop and your body will require more energy. This means 3-4 meals per day is a fairly regular and healthy amount, and making sure you’re not waiting too long in between meals can help you avoid overeating. Of course, spending time to carefully select what you eat is an important factor in all of this. That said, eating on a calorie deficit requires some planning, and consideration for what times of the day you’d like to consume the bulk of your calories.

According to the CDC, keeping a food diary and noting cues for your eating habits can be useful as a preliminary strategy before you start your dieting and weight loss plan. You should also take note of your energy levels when they’re especially high or low. You may consider scheduling your meals around the times you generally feel fatigued in order to give yourself a boost throughout the day.

Is breakfast still the most important part of your day?

As alluded to previously, the longer you wait between meals, the more desperate for fuel your body can become. Eating a large, balanced breakfast in the morning is shown to help maintain blood sugar levels, as well as keep you feeling full throughout the day, allowing you to eat smaller meals and keep your blood sugar balanced. Not to mention, skipping breakfast is correlated (though not a causing factor) with obesity. One theory to explain this correlation is that a filling breakfast keeps you from overindulging and overcompensating for the missed meal throughout the day. It’s difficult to make thoughtful, healthy decisions when you can’t hear your own thoughts over the growling of your stomach. Eating a filling breakfast helps control cravings and avoid impulsive eating.

It’s recommended that you don’t wait much longer than an hour after waking before eating breakfast to avoid meals blending into one another.

Eating before and after your work out

Keeping your body properly fueled is essential for a good workout. You should eat a large, full meal about 3-4 hours before working out or, alternatively, a smaller meal 1-3 hours before. Not eating at all before you exercise can result in light-headedness as your blood sugar drops. Introducing carbohydrates into your meal before exercising can help build muscle, boost your energy, and allow you to workout for longer and at higher levels of intensity. However, overdoing your portions and eating too soon before exercising can make you feel sluggish, so planning when to eat is important and no matter if you want to run or just do stretching you shouldn’t eat just before exercising. If you are working out in the morning, plan for a light breakfast at least 1 hour before your workout.

If you’re unable to eat well before your workout, you may want to consider bringing a protein/carb-loaded snack, like an energy bar, to eat during your workout and avoid losing steam. This is especially important if you plan to work out for a longer period of time.

It’s recommended to eat at least 1-2 hours after exercising, and to prioritize carbohydrates and proteins in your post-workout meal. This will aid in building muscle and restoring your energy levels. This is also a meal where you might consider putting the bulk of your calories for the day in order to recover.

When should you stop eating at night?

Late night binging is a guilty pleasure for a lot of people, and the thrill of it is completely understandable. However, the ability to eat a lot of unhealthy snacks in high portions is not the only reason eating at night should be avoided. Your self-control may be lessened, but so is your digestive system’s efficiency. Much of your metabolic process and other bodily functions are based on your internal clock, or circadian rhythm, which is heavily influenced by things like light, but also meal times. You can cause your internal clock to become confused and out of sync when you eat too late at night when your body thinks you should be sleeping. So, planning your meals to occur mostly during the day time, a high calorie breakfast, and then lighter meals in the evenings, can keep your circadian rhythm and digestive system on track. It’s generally recommended that you avoid eating 2-3 hours before sleeping, so as to ensure your food is well digested before bed.

Meal frequency in the context of the Keto Diet

keto diet green salad with eggs

What is the Keto Diet?

The Ketogenic Diet (or Keto Diet) has become rather popular in recent years, and involves reducing carb intake, while increasing fat intake. The goal is to gear your metabolism into a state called ketosis in which your body burns fat more efficiently than normal. In changing your metabolism’s priority away from carbs, burning fat in ketosis also lowers blood sugar and insulin levels. There are several versions of this diet, but the standard ketogenic diet is the most researched. This version of the diet necessitates low carb intake (10% of your daily diet or less), a moderate amount of protein (no more than 20%), and a much larger amount of fats (70%).


It’s recommended to eat healthy fats on this diet such as fatty fish, red meat, as well as low carb veggies, healthy oils, and nuts and seeds. Foods to avoid include high sugar foods, fruit, alcohol, and unhealthy fats.

Is the Keto Diet Safe?

Aside from encouraging your metabolism to burn fat more quickly, weight loss is also achieved due to a symptom of ketosis: lessened appetite. Not only are the meals associated with this diet quite filling, but once you enter ketosis, a certain hormone call ghrelin, which creates feelings of hunger, decreases significantly, thus leading to loss of appetite.

The ideal of the Keto Diet is to avoid having to restrict and count calories, so it’s important to eat until you’re full and primarily focus on what you’re eating rather than the calorie count. Maintaining the balance of carbs, proteins, and fats is the core of this diet. There are some potential drawbacks to this diet despite it being relatively safe for most people, such as development of a phenomenon called the keto flu. While this is not a formally recognized diagnosis, it’s generally characterized by brain fog, constipation, fatigue, and irritability. However, these symptoms can occur after any drastic diet change, so it’s difficult to assume the root cause within the Keto Diet’s restrictions. Easing the transition into the diet by making it more gradual, staying hydrated, and eating more often are all ways to reduce these symptoms. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you begin experiencing any especially negative side effects.

How often should you eat to lose weight with the Keto Diet?

Well, there is no concrete number or spacing of meals associated with this diet. It is generally recommended that you listen to your body, and just eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. However, many people pair the Keto Diet with intermittent fasting in order to enter a state of ketosis more quickly.

Like keto, there are several versions of intermittent fasting, though one of the most common is to avoid eating for twelve hours, and then allowing yourself a window to eat before resuming the fast. This could mean eating from 8 am until 8 pm, and then eating nothing else until the same time the following day. This diet is said to further increase the level of ketones in the body, which should, in theory, exaggerate the effects of the Keto Diet. While experts consider this a logical outcome, there hasn’t been very much concrete research conducted on the combination of these two methods.

It’s also important to be cautious about when to include intermittent fasting in your Keto Diet. It could be an excessive shock on the body to start both diets at once, and therefore it’s recommended to gain experience and comfort with the Keto Diet (two or more weeks) before participating in intermittent fasting.


Meal frequency in the context of the Smoothie Diet

pink smoothie

What is the Smoothie Diet?

The Smoothie Diet, unlike the Keto Diet, is a time-limited plan. The idea is that over the span of three weeks, you will switch two solid meals each day for smoothies. This allows for one solid meal and 1-2 nutritious snacks each day. The plan aims to promote a variety of health benefits, including weight loss.


The smoothies are based on a specific recipe book offered by the creator of the plan, Drew Sgoutas. The recipes and suggested meals consist of low sugar and high fiber foods, not exceeding 200 calories in each serving. The Smoothie Diet doesn’t specify a specific meal frequency. The goal is to consume no more than 1500 calories a day, which, for most people, creates a calorie deficit to promote weight loss. This diet also involves avoiding processed, fried, and sugary foods. While this plan is time-limited, it can be repeated, with an optional detox period in between, until your health goals are achieved.

There are some things to consider in this diet. Calorie deficits are an individual calculation, which must be based on height, weight, and levels of physical activity. There are several online resources to calculate this for your unique circumstances, and you may find that 1500 calories a day is not a substantial or healthy calorie deficit for you. In this case, you may need to adjust the Smoothie Diet to your needs in order to achieve its benefits. Similarly, the temporary nature of the diet could result in weight gain after returning to normal eating habits. If the diet works for you and you meet your goal weight, you may consider calculating daily calorie intake for weight maintain rather than deficit, in order to avoid reversing your results. Due to the restrictive nature of the diet, you should also pay attention to any possible nutritional deficits, and ways you can make up for them in your solid meals and snacks. For instance, the specific smoothies you consume on a certain day may not give you enough protein, and therefore you should consider attempting to include protein in your solid meal to ensure you aren’t neglecting any important food groups.

While the Smoothie Diet doesn’t indicate a specific frequency of meals, it’s best to assume that similar considerations be taken, as mentioned previously, for your digestive health and workout habits, for best results. Eating well at breakfast and having lighter meals well before bed, scheduling meals to fuel your workouts, and spacing your meals according to your body’s logic, would all likely be useful things to keep in mind as in any diet.


The answer

So how often should you eat to lose weight? It’s not as simple as it may seem. There is no perfect schedule for everyone, and listening to your body should be your main priority. However, using the logic of your body should be key in the way you create your weight loss plan. Considering your digestive system’s health and your body’s circadian rhythm will aid in a healthy and consistent diet. Keeping track of your daily fluctuation in moods and energy levels can give you an idea of when you need to schedule snacks and meal times. Ensuring you’re fueling your body properly before and after workouts will assist you in meeting your fitness goals. Understanding and working with your body’s biology is going to be your ticket to healthy weight loss, regardless of trending diets or workout plans.




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