The University of Toronto conducted a scientific study of eating more frequently versus three meals a day. They studied the effect of increasing the frequency of meals on blood fats concentrations and carbohydrate tolerance in average people. As compared with the three-meal diet, the increased meal frequency diet reduced total cholesterol 8.5%, insulin decreased by 27.9%. In addition, the average 24-hour urine cortisol (Stress-Hormone) was lower.
This suggests that the common eating pattern, which is typified by infrequent meals with a heavy emphasis on a large end-of-day meal, is not useful for meeting goals because it is guaranteed to create large energy gaps during the day. The typical 2-3 meals a day, although this energy gap may be compensated for at the end of the day to put the person in an energy balance. You may maintain your weight, however this also leads to higher % body-fat, meaning you look fat and out of shape.
The reason for a higher % body fat, becomes clear when you consider how blood sugar fluctuates (after a meal, it rises, levels off, and drops over a period of 3 hours.) With delayed eating, blood sugar drops and proteins (amino acids) are taken from muscle tissue to be converted to glucose (blood sugar). Although this may normalize your blood sugar, it does so at the expense of muscle mass, so you lose muscle tissue thus making you look weaker.
Additionally , both low blood sugar and large meals are associated with hyperinsulinemia ( high insulin response), which encourages the storage of fat. So, delayed eating followed by a large meal, which most people do, is an ideal way to lower muscle tissue, and increase fat tissue... not what should be done to achieve an ideal body composition. Since muscle tissue is metabolically active which means you burn more calories during the day, since muscles actively need energy.
The act of eating more frequently, plays a role in the thermic effect of food. The number of calories burned as a result of eating; a higher burn rate is considered good because because it is associated with lower body fat. This thermic effect of food is higher in subjects eating at regular, short intervals when compared with subjects at irregular, longer intervals, e.g. you should have more frequent meals throughout the day.
In conclusion the more frequent the eating pattern, the lower the body fat and the higher the muscle mass.
What are you to do? Never get hungry. Since blood sugar is known to rise and fall in 3 hour intervals, it makes sense to have planned snacks. Best way to start this , is eat a bit less at breakfast, eat the remainder at mid-morning and do the same for lunch and dinner. In other words you split your 3 meals into 6 meals a day, keeping 3 hours between meals.
Example ( first meal is at 6:30 a.m., the second at 9:30 a.m., the third at 12:30 p.m., the fourth at 3:30 p.m., the fifth at 6:30 p.m.and the sixth at 9:30 p.m)
Include low energy-density foods, such as fruits and vegetables, which are rich in water and fiber, to help you feel full longer after eating. Add a small serving of protein at each mini-meal, such as fish, poultry, meat, nuts, nut (peanut, almond etc..) butter, eggs, legumes, non-fat yogurt. Protein increases satiety and prevents you from feeling hungry until your next mini-meal.