How many meals a day should I eat to lose weight?

How many meals a day should I eat to lose weight?

Eat five (5) meals a day to lose weight.

Adults who have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for almost six years , eat an average of five meals a day.

  • These adults are members of the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR).
  • The actual number of meals eaten per day ranged from two to seven, but the average was five.

If five small meals a day isn’t realistic for you, find something that is. The most important thing is to eat in a way that you can maintain for the rest of your life (to achieve permanent weight loss).

Listen to your body and your hunger; eat healthy snacks to prevent going hungry between meals.

Start with breakfast

Don’t skip breakfast to cut calories and lose weight. Of 2,959 NWCR members:

  • 78% of the members eat breakfast seven days a week.
  • 90% of the members eat breakfast at least four days a week.
  • Only 4% of the members never eat breakfast.

Limit restaurant eating

Adults who have lost weight and kept it off eat most of their meals at home. On average:

  • They eat out at a restaurant roughly three times a week.
  • They eat fast food less than once a week.

You can still eat out and restaurants and lose weight. Follow easy tips for portion control and watch out for unhealthy food on the menu.

ML Klem, RR Wing, MT McGuire, HM Seagle, and JO Hill. A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, Aug 1997; 66: 239-246.

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Stephanie Averkamp

About the Author was created by Stephanie Averkamp, a recognized health and fitness professional and sole-author of the content on this website. Stephanie's approach to weight loss emphasizes making small, realistic, and permanent lifestyle changes. Read more...

Stephanie Averkamp

Our Approach: Short-term solutions (like dieting) are unrealistic and ineffective because at some point they end. As soon as a diet or program ends, so do the results. Permanent weight loss is a journey; it's not a race or competition and there is no finish line. Read more...