Why Do We Believe in Three Square Meals a Day?

Barbara10Broek By Barbara10Broek, 1st Jun 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Diet & Nutrition

Discusses this habit and suggests another way to arrange your meals.


The only reason for this habit is custom. Perhaps it is more convenient to eat before work, during one break at work, and after arriving home. But studies suggest that those “three squares” are too few. Between meals the fuel continues to burn. Five small meals a day would keep the metabolism running along at a more even rate.

A Different Way to Eat

Jorge Cruise, fitness journalist and author of The 3-Hour Diet: Lose up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks by Eating Every 3 Hours, as well as numerous other books, believes this eating system is wrong.

The true keys to Cruise's diet -- other than portion control involve a trinity of timing:

* Eat breakfast within one hour of rising
* Eat every three hours thereafter
* Stop eating three hours before bedtime

Cruise is a passionate believer that eating this way increases BMR (baseline metabolic rate -- how fast your body burns calories), increases energy, and decreases appetite.

However, while people do report successfully losing on his plan, there isn't agreement on whether it's a metabolic improvement to spread three meals out into five or six smaller meals.

What You Can Eat on The 3-Hour Diet

"Portions are very important, as well as timing," Cruise tells readers in his books. The author doesn't really advise what to eat -- more how to visualize what you're eating.

Begin with the picture of a 9-inch plate in your mind . On this plate you'll "see" four items:

* A Rubik's cube, representing your carbohydrate portion at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
* A deck of playing cards, symbolizing your protein serving at each meal; this is approximately 3 ounces, and Cruise says it can be anything you like -- from chicken to cheese, eggs, and fish.
* A water bottle cap represents the amount of fat on your plate -- a little more than one teaspoon. This can be salad dressing, butter, olive oil -- any fat you favor.
* Visually stack three DVD cases; this represents how much fruit or vegetables to eat at each meal.

Cruise believes there are no bad foods, just bad portions. Using this "visual timing" method, he says you'll find that all meals are balanced at about 400 calories each. Learn to eat the right portion, at the right time, he maintains, and you will lose weight.

As the name of the diet implies, timing is everything with The 3-Hour Diet.

Breakfast is at 7 a.m. Three hours later, at 10 a.m., there's a 100-calorie snack; Cruise favors Nabisco Snack Packs, which are prepackaged in 100-calorie portions. Three hours after your snack comes lunch. Then three hours later another 100-calorie snack, followed in three hours by dinner.

During or soon after dinner you enjoy a small 50-calorie treat. Here's where Cruise is partial to recommending Reese's Peanut Butter Cup minis. Your timing here should have you nibbling this last item three hours before bed. No eating after that.

"When you eat every three hours," Cruise says, "it teaches your body to constantly reset its metabolism. It is almost like a workout for the body every time you eat these meals."

By eating every three hours you lower belly fat, says Cruise, burning 2 pounds a week, without muscle loss. Then, because you always eat every three hours, you repeatedly reset your metabolism so you're constantly burning fat.

This gives your body an eating workout, Cruise says, so that it consumes fat and juices up your baseline metabolic rate. "And that's a great thing."

What the Experts Say About The 3-Hour Diet

Whether you're eating three meals or six a day, "the only thing that has been consistently shown to increase BMR is exercise," says Vicki Sullivan, PhD, RD, LD, national lecturer and president of Balance, LLC.

While Sullivan agrees that some people may feel energized and less hungry eating every three hours, not everyone will.

"I have clients who find that they gain weight when they eat more frequently, or some simply cannot eat every three hours due to job constraints," Sullivan says.

And in one recent study, baseline metabolic rate was unaffected by meal timing. "Other studies also show that eating frequency has no effect on a person's overall metabolic rate," says Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN, with the American Institute for Cancer Research.

However, Sullivan believes that "getting people to eat breakfast at all would be a great improvement and is a long-standing, well-documented way to help with weight loss and weight management."

Food for Thought

Overall, with its insistence on portion control, the three-hour diet boils down to a sensible "calories in-calories out" approach -- reduce how many calories you consume compared to how many you burn and you will lose weight.

So is this The 3-Hour Diet for you?

The plan's reliance on five to six meals a day gives some experts pause, like Elaine Magee, MPH, RD. "The truth is, the more times a day you sit down to eat a meal or snack, the more opportunities you have to overeat," she writes in her article 3-Hour Diet or 3 Meals a Day?


Diet, Diet Plans, Dieting, Three Day Plan

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author avatar Barbara10Broek
Professional Librarian and freelance writer. Home Page: http://barbaratenbroekfreelancewriter.yolasite.com/

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