3 Square Meals?

Packed lunch on a wooden table

Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. The 3 meals we all know and love. But over the years, the concept of “3 square meals” has been questioned. What about 6 smaller meals? What about skipping breakfast? What about a late-night snack? Fasting? We’ll break down some of the common theories floating out there and let you decide.

Tried and True: There’s still a lot of support for the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner approach to eating. It provides fuel throughout the day and, most importantly, keeps you from grazing, eating constantly throughout the day without the right balance of nutrients and caloric intake. It can get tricky, however, if you experience midday slumps or need fuel before or after a workout.

Small Bites: Made popular by personal trainers and nutritionists, the concept of eating more, small meals throughout the day has gained popularity. The idea is that your body will be constantly fueled, keeping your metabolism running and burning calories for longer. It also helps curb overeating during the traditional 3 square meals. But beware. Closely monitor calorie intake to ensure you’re not just adding more meals to your existing diet; carefully parcel out your “snack meals” and make sure you have plenty of protein, fiber, fruits and veggies

Fasting 411: Intermittent fasting has been gaining traction lately, which is slightly ironic considering its roots date back to ancient times where communities spent much of their day hunting, gathering and preparing meals, and very little time actually eating. Intermittent fasting usually works on a 16/8 rotation: First, eat nothing for 16 hours, then consume your daily caloric needs in 2 large meals during an 8-hour window. Caffeine (coffee, tea) can be consumed during the morning hours to help suppress appetite before the midday meal. Remember, hydration is key, even when fasting. There are many different ways to approach fasting, but intermittent fasting seems to be the current favorite.

As you can see, our traditional understanding of daily meals is constantly evolving. As with any health or nutrition decision, make sure to consult your primary care physician before making any drastic changes to your daily routine. These meal approaches may not be right for you, so spend time to find what meal plan works best for you and your lifestyle.