Which one is better for you?
If you’re looking for a proper diet, you might have been searching the internet and came across these two popular ways of adjusting your diet to lose weight or stay on a healthy weight.
These are intermittent fasting and eating 5 meals a day.
You must be wondering what the difference is between these two and which one is better for you. Or if one has more benefits than the other.
Before we get into the pros and cons of both of these methods, let’s check first what the idea behind both of them is.
Intermittent fasting is a way of dieting where the idea is to let our insulin levels drop down for a long enough period which can result in the burning of fat and that can result in weight loss.
Insulin is a hormone that carries sugar into our fat cells, this is the only way sugar can enter our cells. These sugars enter our bodies as carbohydrates (sugar and refined grains such as white rice and flour). When they are broken down our cells can use them for energy. But if your cells don’t use all of it, they can be stored as fat.
Between meals, as long as we don’t eat, our insulin levels go down which causes our cells to use the stored up sugar as energy. In this way, the stored up fat is being broken down. These periods of not eating are considered as fasting.
There are several ways of intermittent fasting and these are the most popular ones:
- The 16/8 Method: you fast for 16 hours each day.
- The 5:2 diet: fast for 2 days per week.
- Eat-stop-eat: fast 24 hours once or twice a week.
Intermittent fasting has multiple benefits.
Research has shown that intermittent fasting does have a great effect on weight loss in adults. But it can go along with hunger, which might be a challenge in sticking to this diet type.
It also has other health benefits such as a lower insulin level and as we mentioned earlier, this makes the stored up fat in our bodies more accessible.
Intermittent fasting has a positive effect on certain organs in such a way that the fasting period enables the organs to overcome the challenge and restore the homeostasis afterward. Cells that have maintained the intermittent fasting diet have an improved function and a firm resistance to a lot of potentially harmful threats.
Intermittent fasting has a great effect on inflammation, hypertension, insulin resistance, and obesity.
5 meals a day
Another diet that is a bit on the opposite side of intermittent fasting is the diet with the idea of eating 5-6 meals a day.
The idea behind this diet is having a structured eating schedule where you eat 5-6 small meals a day, this normally consists of your breakfast, lunch, and dinner with 2-3 snack breaks in between.
Every meal (accept for your breakfast) is within 2-3 hours after your last meal.
One of the main reasons for this diet is to lower your calorie intake, by having smaller meals than usual. And to keep your metabolism going on a steady and higher state while it evens out your blood sugar levels.
The idea is that when eating 5 meals a day you keep your metabolism at a steady rate because you’re constantly adding a portion of food. When eating consistently your body doesn’t have the urge to ‘save up’, but to keep burning what you’re adding.
This would be because you provide your body with a steady stream of nutrients. Another benefit of a steady stream of nutrients might also be that you don’t go overboard at mealtime.
So you might wonder which one of these two types of eating patterns is better for you to lose weight.
The answer is, both might be good. Research has shown that people who ate 3 times a day versus people who ate 6 times a day both lost around the same amount of weight. The similar thing in both these diets was that both groups lowered their calorie intake.
So you might say the key to weight loss is not how many times you eat, but how much you eat and what you eat.
What’s also a fact is that every person’s body differs from another. So the one eating pattern may work better for you and you need to find out which one.
For example, some people find the intermittent fasting idea hard because the long period of eating makes them very hungry which leads to overeating when they finally do.
Other people who eat 6 meals a day, may have the tendency to eat unhealthy snacks and unhealthy portions of food when they eat, which again leads to overeating.
Also if you have certain health complications, a certain type of diet might not be the best idea for you. So before making a drastic change in your diet, always check with your physician.
Here are some final tips to consider when you want to start eating the right way to lose weight:
- Keep track of what you eat, your amount of calories, your carbs, etc.
- Eat food that satisfies your hunger. Foods that are high in fiber such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Lower your calorie intake. Find out what the right amount of calories is you need to consume a day. This may vary between 1600-3000 calories per day, depending on various factors such as gender, age, and activity.
- Plan your meals. If you plan or meal prep, you are less likely to grab an unhealthy snack or lunch.
- Lower your carb intake, you can start with less white bread, rice, and white flower. Less, or no sugary drinks and alcohol.
- If you don’t make any progress and still need some guidance, it might be useful to contact a dietitian and find out what you might be doing wrong. Maybe your body needs something different, because of certain medical complications.
- Make sure you exercise regularly. You might lose some weight by dieting, but to really see a difference, to make good progress and to stay healthy, you must always exercise.
I hope this blog can get you a step closer to choosing the right diet for you. Remember that what works for someone does not have to work for you.