woman with bowl of oatmeal and fruit

For years now, we’ve been hearing about how smaller, more frequent meals in the day can increase your metabolic rate, as opposed to three large meals a day. Health experts and nutritionists have argued that eating 5 to 6 mini meals a day is better for your body and boosts your metabolism.

But does eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day truly make a difference? Science doesn’t seem to think so.

Metabolic Rate Isn’t Affected by Meal Frequency

The evidence that eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day vs. eating three large meals is weak. According to multiple studies, there is no significant effect in metabolic rate from the frequency in which meals are eaten.

Whether you have five or six mini meals, or you choose to sit down three times a day to have three large meals, there’s really no difference in your metabolic rate.

Those who argue for smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day often point out that the benefit of this is experiencing less blood sugar spikes. It’s been believed that when you eat fewer, larger meals, there are more highs and lows in blood sugar levels as opposed to nibbling away throughout the day.

However, studies have shown that a non-diabetic, non-obese person who eats three large meals a day may experience bigger spikes in blood sugar but overall maintains lower blood sugar levels when compared to a person with a diet of smaller, more frequent meals.

Not only that but the fewer, larger meals in the day can improve satiety and reduce cravings throughout the day.

Eat a Bigger Breakfast

Metabolic rate can be affected by multiple factors, but when it comes to meal frequency, it appears to be unchanged. What does make a difference in the way your body processes food is the time of day in which you are consuming your meals and how large those meals are.

More specifically, the body tends to fare better with larger meals in the morning and lighter meals in the evening. Research has shown that when a healthy, high-calorie breakfast is consumed, overall daily blood sugar levels tend to be consistently lower.

It seems that the body’s control over blood sugar is better in the morning compared to later in the afternoon and evening. This is why it’s advised to eat a decent portion of your daily calories in the morning and reserve smaller portions for lunch and dinner.

How to Boost Metabolic Rate

You may or may not have heard of the latest trend called intermittent fasting, but it’s been all the rage for boosting metabolic rate. While nutritionists have previously argued that fasting puts the body in starvation mode, deterring weight loss efforts and metabolic function, new studies have shown that short-term, temporary fasting can actually be beneficial.

Benefits of intermittent fasting not only include increased metabolic rate but decreased blood sugar levels, improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reduced oxidative stress on the body from free radicals.

If you’re looking to boost calorie burning by increasing your metabolic rate, it’s worth looking into intermittent fasting and discuss the idea with your doctor.

Quick FAQs

1. What’s metabolic rate?

Metabolic rate is the rate of metabolism or the amount of energy used per unit of time.

2. What’s basal metabolic rate?

Basil metabolic rate is the rate at which energy is used by the body when the body is at rest. This energy is often used to allow vital organs to function.

3. What affects metabolic rate?

Several factors affect metabolic rate, including proper hydration, ample sleep, and a healthy diet. One popular method of increasing metabolic rate is through intermittent fasting.

4. How to check metabolic rate?

There are various online calculators and formulas used to calculate individual metabolic rate. There are also devises that utilize respiratory gases along with formulaic equations to obtain more accurate metabolic rates.


Jakubowicz, D., Wainstein, J., Ahrén, B., Bar-Dayan, Y., Landau, Z., Rabinovitz, H. R., & Froy, O. (2015, May). High-energy breakfast with low-energy dinner decreases overall daily hyperglycaemia in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomised clinical trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25724569
Cameron, J. D., Cyr, M. J., & Doucet, E. (2010, April). Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19943985
Effect of meal frequency on glucose and insulin excursions over the course of a day. (2010, October 22). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1751499110000545


Bellisle, F., McDevitt, R., & Prentice, A. M. (1997, April). Meal frequency and energy balance. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9155494