A new member recently started here at Stoked, and after crushing it for a few weeks, came in a bit confused. I asked what was up, and they replied with this...
"I was on TikTok last night and I saw a video where some guy was telling me that Intermittent Fasting was the best way to lose weight. Then, a few videos later, someone else was saying that splitting my meals into smaller meals throughout the day was the best thing! Both backed it up with science and now I feel like I'm doing my nutrition all wrong."
This isn't uncommon, and the question of intermittent fasting vs multiple small meals comes up often... but I think we need to look at the bigger picture.
People tend to think that either one of those comes with some intense, hidden 'magic pills' that will help them hit all their goals just by eating at certain times.
"Eating 6 small meals a day keeps your metabolism burning constantly - shredding off fat all day!"
"Intermittent fasting allows the cells in your body time to dump it's toxins, resulting in a better metabolism!"
But asking which is better for you is like asking if it’s better to be paid the same amount of money in one lump sum a month or to receive a smaller check once a week.
Think about it like this, both of these examples are just schedules.
For some, lumping their payments (intermittent fasting) will help them better manage their budget (calories) more effectively.
For others, smaller, more frequent paychecks (4-6 small meals a day) will keep them more satisfied and on top of their payments.
You’ve probably heard cases as to why each of them are magic...
But those cases are typically exaggerated.
What WE KNOW is that people have found success with both...
...and people have also failed at both.
The underlying principle is that people will find the MOST SUCCESS with the habits they can best adhere to.
So it’s not a question of which is better.
It’s questions of which fits your lifestyle best, to allow you to stay consistent with your eating habits (portions, calories, protein intake, whatever “habits” means for you right now).
Psychologically, are you able to go without eating for a bit?
Socially, are you often eating out with friends? Family dinners? Lunch with coworkers? Do you feel ok missing those if needed?
In regards to your schedule, are you able to eat meals throughout your day with work or school?
These are questions we have to keep in mind!
The takeaway is that neither of these are magic pills.
They are tools in our toolbox that we can use to keep on track with the eating habits that support our goals.
Explore your options, try new things, and find what works best for you!