Is it neccesary to eat every 4 hours?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 30, 2012 at 9:34 PM

My dietician just told me I need to eat atleast every four hours, or less. That I need snacks throughout the day. But most importantly, to NEVER wait more than 4 hours between meals.

I tried to tell her that if I eat protein and healthy fats at a meal, that 5 and sometimes 6 hours is good for me. Sometimes it's 4, but not all the time. I just started doing this a few weeks ago and it seemed to be working. But she said it doesn't matter if I'm not hungry, that I need to eat that often anyway.

This is part of an eating disorder recovery thing, so it's really important that I do what they say ~ I'm just worried. I tend to binge eat, and being able to eat enough protein and fat at a meal and just not think about food for a good 5 hours or so has been good for me. I should also say I make sure not to wait too long, either, since that also isn't good for me.

But she wants me to constantly be eating every four hours or less, and says if I wait longer, my body will hold on to the fat because it thinks I'm starving. Which is funny, because since eating to the point of fullness at each meal and waiting 5/6 hours, I've actually lost some weight without trying and feel much healthier.

But.... does she know something I don't? If I wait that long will my body think I'm starving and cause me to binge? Hold on to fat? Is it unhealthy? If I listen to her advice and eat that often, do you think I'll be okay (keeping in mind my binge eating tendencies)?

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7 Answers



on November 30, 2012
at 09:53 PM

She's an idiot. You sleep every night without waking up to eat, right? As long as you eat enough, it doesn't matter if it's in one big meal or 30 small ones, or something in between.



on November 30, 2012
at 11:55 PM

When you eat a lot of carbs, especially grains and high glycemic foods instead of nutrient dense REAL foods, your blood sugar and insulin levels fluctuate constantly and you need to eat frequently to avoid the dips in blood sugar that make you hungry and tend to binge.

That's probably all the dietician has experience with, becuase she is probably telling her patients to eat lots of "healthy" whole grains and fruit because it's fat free. She has never seen anyone on a truly healthy diet like the Paleo diet which stabilizes blood sugar and insulin levels.



on November 30, 2012
at 10:33 PM

Your dietician is just trying to keep your blood sugar consistent, because dips tend to exacerbate eating disorders. If you feel satisfied and full for 5-6 hours, and don't notice that it increases overeating when you do eat or binging at the end of the day, that is perfectly healthy. The every four hour thing is usually based on a low fat diet, if you are eating 50+% of your calories from fat, you'll get a slower burn of your meals and be full longer.

That said, I do believe there is a time early in treating an eating disorder that you need to give yourself over to your treatment, and trust the information that is given to you because intuitive eating is not an option when your intuition about food has been deeply distorted.



on November 30, 2012
at 09:59 PM

SHE IS WROOOONNGG. Look up "EatStopEat", or even just the reviews. There is no actual science that proves consistent meals increase your metabolism. I have been doing one big meal a day and I am at about 10% bodyfat.

On the other hand, if you have a PROBLEM with eating and she is trying to fix THAT with consistent meals, then that is something I don't know about. But if you want to eat less meals and do not binge, that will not effect your metabolism at all :)




on November 30, 2012
at 10:22 PM

I think leangains gives some great evidence about the myths of not eating for relatively extended periods of time and its effect on metabolism. For the most part, I agree with Matt. However, I think it can't hurt you either. In short, YMMV.

However, and much much much more importantly, as you said this is part of eating disorder recovery I think you need to evaluate what will help you create a healthier relationship with food. If eating four hours helps you do that, I think it's good. If not listening to your dietician causes you angst, I think that's not good.

I'll just speak from experience and say that when I find myself worrying too much about optimal tweaking it can overwhelm me and cause me to do more harm than good.



on November 30, 2012
at 11:51 PM

i am the same as you. since my meals are so high in fat and protein, i can go about 4-5 hours and be fine. i used to eat every 3 hours religiously since i heard that it burned fat, but now i don't do that.

if you feel good eating the way you are now, i'd stick with it. your dietician doesn't know your body better than you do.



on November 30, 2012
at 10:04 PM

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