How often should athletes eat?

You won't necessarily burn more calories by consuming six small meals daily.

Proponents of frequent eating argue that you’ll burn more calories the more often you sit down for a bite. When you eat your body works overtime to digest the food, which burns calories and can lead to a small metabolism boost, explains Brian St. Pierre, RD, Scarborough, Maine-based director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition.

However, that shouldn't be your guideline for when to eat. Truthfully, three or six meals will burn a similar number of calories at the end of the day as your total calorie intake, says St. Pierre. That’s why, to gauge how often to eat, athletes should tune into their hunger.

If you get hungry between meals, add in healthy snacks. If you find that you’re more satiated with three bigger meals each day, stick with that plan. Regardless, it's important to keep portions in check: Ultimately, what matters is calories in versus calories out. Adjust your number of meals based on needs, likes, and lifestyle, he says.

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