Grazing, or eating the same amount of calories you normally eat per day spread among more meals and snacks, is gaining popularity as a weight-loss tool among health experts. Going for long periods of time without food can create a blood insulin response that can lead to fat storage and weight gain.
A study conducted by South African researchers found that men who ate their breakfast calories in two meals, rather than one, ate 27 percent fewer calories at lunch. Eating more often during the day also keeps your metabolism raised and burning calories.
Decide what times you’ll eat. If possible, use the same schedule each day. This could mean every 2.5 hours, or at set times like 7:30, 9:00, 11:30 and so on.
Calculate the total number of calories you wish to eat during the day. Refer to our article on Your Daily Calories to determine how many calories you need, based on your sex, age and activity level. Subtract 500 calories from your USDA-recommended daily calorie number to lose 1 lb. per week, or factor in how many calories you’ll burn from extra exercise. For example, if you’ll burn 300 calories from exercise, you can cut your calories by 200.
Divide your calories into six portions, including breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dinner and an evening snack or dessert. Have an extra 100 or 200 calories during your main breakfast, lunch and dinner, rather than dividing your calories evenly, to avoid a big lifestyle change and to avoid having to eliminate most or all of your favorite meals.
Create each day’s menu the night before to make sure you get the right amount of protein, carbs, healthy fats and essential vitamins and minerals. You can use nutrition labels to guide you.
Write down your reaction to your new eating plan each day. A food journal will help you track which foods satisfied you, when you felt more energy or more sluggish and other issues that will let you adjust your plan.
For the best weight-loss results, add an exercise program to your new eating plan. Start with 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (you can do it while you watch TV), three times a week to help you build cardio stamina and muscular endurance. Create fun workouts doing activities you like, such a cycling, rollerblading, swimming or dancing. From there, you can add longer, more intense workouts.