3-Hour Diet or 3 Meals a Day?

Experts debate how often we should eat for weight loss

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

To eat three meals a day or to eat six small meals a day: that is the question. If you have heard about or read Jorge Cruise's new book, The 3-Hour Diet, you would bet the answer is the latter. But many nutrition researchers out there say, "not so fast!"

Cruise's plan boasts a three-point approach: eat breakfast within one hour of rising, eat every three hours, and stop eating three hours before bedtime. He says this ritualized way of eating increases BMR (baseline metabolic rate), increases energy levels, and decreases appetite, among other things. While many nutrition experts agree that when it comes to weight loss irregular eating patterns and skipped meals can mean trouble for most of us, there isn't anything close to a consensus on whether we are metabolically better off eating three regular meals a day or spreading that out into five or six smaller meals.

Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director of CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) would like to see the studies Cruise used to formulate his 3 Hour Diet. "If there are any good studies proving his point, they certainly aren't well established," says Liebman.

And ADA spokeswoman Noralyn Mills, RD, believes if we feed the body at regular intervals we send a signal to the body that it doesn't have to store calories and when we skip meals, we affect the metabolism negatively. "But this can be accomplished with three regular meals a day for many of us," she notes.

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