Blog Nutrition 5 Meals A Day: Can Smaller Portions Boost Your Weight Loss Success?

5 Meals A Day: Can Smaller Portions Boost Your Weight Loss Success?

5 meals a day plan

5 Meals A Day

Have you ever thought that 5 meals a day might be the key to helping you finally lose weight? Most of us believe that having 3 big meals a day with snacks in between is the way to go. After all, that is what many of us grew up doing. When it comes to reducing weight however, you might just want to consider adjusting to smaller meals a day as a great way to hit your weight loss goals.


What Is A 5 Meals A Day Plan?

Eating 5 meals a day involves having breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and dinner (7). To do this, you will need to try and eat every three hours. The most important part of this meal plan (and any other diet) is to eat less calories each time.

Eating 5 Meals A Day For Weight Loss: Is This Possible?

Can you truly shed those extra unwanted pounds by eating 5 times a day? Yes, you can. According to Harvard University research, eating frequently can help you shed weight (3). People who are obese tend to eat less frequently than those who at a healthy weight and also formerly obese persons.

See also
9 Essential Nutrients Or Why You Should Include Milk To Your Daily Menu

It should be noted though, that being on a calorie deficit meal plan has to do with more than how many times a day you eat. For example, let’s say you have two sisters eating 1200 calories a day each. One chooses to divide her total consumption into three meals, while the other opts to ‘graze’ and eat the same calories through 5 meals a day. At the end of 4 weeks, the chances are that both sisters will have lost the same amount of weight (3).

5 meals a day
What Should I Eat For A 5 Meals A Day Diet Plan Menu?

An important fact to note is that consuming 5 meals a day does not mean filling up on snacks alone. You need to have actual food and a well-balanced diet for you to lose weight and make sure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients that an adult requires.

See also
Elimination Diet: The Answer To All Your Tummy Troubles

Some healthy weight loss foods that should be included in your 5 meals a day for weight loss are:

  1. Leafy greens such as collard greens, swiss chard, kale, and spinach
  2. Fish such as salmon, tuna, cod, trout, sardines, and mackerel
  3. Lean beef, eggs, and chicken breast
  4. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, and green beans
  5. Beans, peas, lentils, and legumes
  6. Whole grains such as barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, oatmeal, and popcorn
  7. Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers
  8. Berries – raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, and grapes.
  9. Nuts – pistachios, walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts
  10. Avocados for healthy fats
  11. Healthy oils like olive, safflower, hemp, flaxseed, coconut and sunflower oil.
See also
Healthy Spices List: 13 Flavorful Herbs And Their Health Benefits

Read More: Meal Plans To Lose Weight: Simple Diet Plans, Menus, and Hacks to Lose Pounds Faster

lose weight
Sample Of A 5
Meals A Day Diet Plan Menu

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, an adult’s total daily calories should come from the following (8)

  • 45% – 65% carbohydrates
  • 10% – 30% protein
  • 20% – 35% fat

You should aim to consume your daily calories in the 40:30:30 ratio (40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat) for healthy weight loss. While you can change up these ratios, the 40-30-30 meal plan works best as it does not require you to cut any carbs, grains, dairy, or meat out from your diet. It also provides you with the sufficient macronutrients needed to stabilize blood sugar, putting you at levels that keep you energized throughout the day (4).

See also
Dandelion Tea Detox: Benefits, Side Effects, And How To Boost Your Body's Detox Functions
Get your personal plan according to your age and BMI
Select your gender
Male Female
Get your personal plan according to your age and BMI
Select your gender
Male Female

diet plan
One Day Of The 5 Meals A Day Plan Menu


Spaghetti Squash Egg Cups

350g spaghetti squash, 2 tsp cooking oil, 25g green onions, 1 large egg white, 1/4 teaspoon salt, black pepper, to taste, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 8 large (50g each) eggs

These measurements make 4 egg cups. A serving is 2 egg cups

Cals: 288. Fat: 18 g, Carbs: 13 g, Protein: 19 g


Pumpkin Spice Roasted Chickpea Trail Mix

1 can chickpeas, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 5 to 6 drops of stevia, 1/2 cup unsweetened large flaked coconut flakes, 1/2 cup almond slices, 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Cals: 155. Fat: 7 g, Carbs: 18 g, Protein: 16 g

See also
Pea Protein Vs Whey: Which Is Better For Muscle Building, Weight Loss And Overall Health?

5 meals a day

Harvest Salad with chicken

30g greens, 30g Romaine lettuce, 2 tablespoons red onion, 8 pecan halves, 1/4 apple thinly diced, 2 tablespoons dried tart cherries, 40g cucumber, 2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese. – This makes two servings

Dressing (8 servings) – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup plain 1% kefir, 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon agave nectar, 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Cals: 352. Fat: 23 g, Carbs: 18 g, Protein: 20 g


Apple Pie Oat Muffins

2 cups oats, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 teaspoons apple pie spice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup applesauce, 1 medium apple, 1 large egg white, 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/3 cup dried cranberries.

The above measurements are enough for 12 muffins. One muffin = one serving

Cals: 100. Fat: 1 g, Carbs: 20 g, Protein: 3 g

Whether you’re a workout beast or just a beginner making your first foray into the world of fitness and dieting – BetterMe has a lot to offer to both newbies and experts! Install the app and experience the versatility first-hand!

5 meals a day

Turkey Sausage, Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

1 tbsp olive oil, 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion, 1 large sweet potato, 13 oz cooked turkey sausage, 4 cloves garlic, 6 cup low-sodium chicken broth, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp ground cumin, 3/4 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp chili powder, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 4 cups chopped fresh kale, 1 can dark red kidney beans.

Note: The above measurements make 6 servings

Cals: 317. Fat: 9 g, Carbs: 37 g, Protein: 16 g

Total calorie intake for the day: Cals: 1212. Fat: 58 g, Carbs: 106 g, Protein: 64 g (12)

calorie tracker
The Bottom Line

Can eating 5 times a day help you lose weight? Yes, it can, but only if you eat the right things and in the right way. The timing of your meals is of less significance than your choice of quality, portion sizes, and overall calorie intake. Snacking on fruit rather than candy and having whole foods rather than fast, convenient meals will positively benefit your weight loss more than just following the clock.

You should always try to eat meals that contain less calories, even when you are consuming healthy meals and snacks. Physical activity/working out also helps you lose weight more. A person who chooses to eat 5 light meals a day with workouts will lose weight faster than one who eats the same diet but has a more sedentary life.

As usual, talk to your doctor or dietitian each time before making any changes to your diet. What works for someone else might not be the best plan for you, especially if you have a medical condition. Make an appointment with your doctor and outline any dietary and workout changes you are considering, that way you can have professional advice for the way forward.

5 meals a day

How To Eat 5 Meals A Day For Weight Loss

If you would like to begin eating 5 meals a day for weight loss, here are some tips to make the process easier, healthier, and wholesome for you.

  • Determine Your Daily Energy Requirements

Before thinking about what you shall be eating through the week, first you need to determine how much you eat a day and how many calories you need to cut out. You can do this with an online calorie counter or by downloading a reputable calorie counting app. Make sure to use a calculator based on the Mifflin St-Jeor equation. 

Once you have this number, you should cut the usual number by 500 to 1000 calories per day. It is best to start small, so just try cutting 500 calories. This number will help you safely lose 1 to 2 pounds a week.
5 meals a day

  • Plan Out Your 5 Meals A Day

Once you have determined how many meals you need to eat a day to lose the extra pounds, divide them by 5 to determine how many calories each meal should have. For example for

  1. 2000 cals a day, each meals should be about 400 cals
  2. 1500 cals a day = 300 cals per meal
  3. 1200 cals a day requires about 240 cals per meal

Remember that each meal does not have to be exactly 240, 300, or 400 calories; if it surpasses or goes over the recommended number, it is still fine. However, your tally at the end of the day should not be over your total daily recommended intake.

Dropping pounds by the dozens without putting yourself through the wringer is everyone’s weight loss pipe dream. But what if we told you that the BetterMe app can make that happen? Keep yourself in prime shape with our fat-blasting workouts, delicious budget-sparing recipes, and body-transforming challenges with our app!
ideal body

  • Do Not Eat Less Than 1200 Calories A Day

Eating less than 1200 calories will most likely lead to low energy, muscle loss, and possible nutrient deficiencies. If your calculations for daily energy  requirements  are lower than 1200, it is better to readjust your overall goal allowing for a slower, healthier, and more sustainable weight loss journey.

  • Meal Prep

Failure to meal prep is among the biggest reasons why many people are unable to stick to their diets. Due to our busy lives, it is sometimes impossible to have time to cook. This leads us to convenient fast food options or ordering in from restaurants. You can easily go over your calorie intake eating like this.

Instead, choose a day of the week – Saturday or Sunday – where you can prepare and portion out all the meals and snacks that you will consume during the week. This way, even when you are in a hurry, you already have healthy nutrient-dense food within your allocated caloric intake program.

  • Remember To Exercise

Frequent meals tend to work better with athletes or physically active people than with sedentary people. Choose to take a walk instead of taking an Uber, opt to take the stairs rather than the elevator, dance more. Always have a meal or snack before your workout to give you energy and then after exercising to help to repair your muscles and replenish the energy lost (6).
5 meals a day

5 Meals A Day: How Many Calories Should I Eat?

This depends on what your goals are. Most women require about 2000 calories to maintain their weight while men require about 2500 calories a day. When going about losing weight, women require 1500 calories while men require about 2000 calories.

However, these numbers are not set in stone. Age, size (height and weight) and amount of physical activity a day determine how many calories one should ingest any given day for weight loss or maintenance (13).

Someone trying to gain weight or build muscle will need to eat more than someone trying to lose weight. Here is what a 5 meal a day diet plan menu for someone trying to build muscle would look like (1). You can determine your estimated daily energy intake by using an online calculator that uses the Mifflin St-Jeor equation.

5 meals a day

Protein pancakes – 2 servings

1 cup raw oats, 1/2 cup liquid egg whites, 1 cup cooked chickpeas, 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 pinch salt, 1 tsp powdered Stevia

Cals: 504. Fat: 6 g, Carbs: 67 g, Protein: 45 g


Chips and salad – 1 serving

2 cups stemmed and torn mustard greens, 1/8 cup almonds, 1/4 avocado, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1 salt to taste, 2 cups organic mixed greens, 1 cup goji berries, 1/2 whole sprouted-grain tortilla, 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp honey, salt and pepper to taste

Cals: 1558. Fat: 73 g, Carbs: 182 g, Protein: 42 g

5 meals a day
Post-Workout Meal


1 fl oz water, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 scoop dymatize iso-100, 1 oz raw maca powder, 1 scoop dymatize glutamine powder

Cals: 303. Fat: 2 g, Carbs: 42 g, Protein: 30 g


Salmon and mixed greens

1 tbsp olive oil, 1 salt and pepper to taste, 6 oz salmon fillet, 1/4 cup pico de gallo, 2 cups organic mixed greens

Cals: 735. Fat: 25 g, Carbs: 85 g, Protein: 42 g


Creamy Tuna, Cucumber Canapés, And Spicy Roasted Pepitas

1/2 thinly sliced cucumber, 1 tbsp olive oil, 5 oz tuna, 1/4 cup raw pepitas, 1 tsp sriracha

Cals: 361. Fat: 20 g, Carbs: 6 g, Protein: 40 g

Total intake for the day: 3461. Fat: 126 g, Carbs: 382 g, Protein: 199 g

As you can see, this meal plan is quite different from the other weight loss plan above. Having many small meals a day as opposed to three big ones does not matter, as long as your calorie intake does not change.

If you are looking to lose weight by eating 5 meals a day, first, be sure to reduce your usual calorie intake by 500 to 1000 calories (2). This puts your body in a calorie deficit, thus allowing you to lose weight. You should also try and incorporate more physical activity in your day to day.

meal plan
What Time Should I Eat My 5 Meals A Day?

It is advisable to eat your meals every two to three hours (5). An example of having 5 meals a day every three hours would be as follows

  1. Breakfast – 07:00 am
  2. Snack/2nd breakfast – 10:00 am
  3. Lunch – 13:00 pm
  4. Snack – 16:00 pm
  5. Dinner – 19:00 pm

Why Is It Important To Eat 5 Meals A Day?

If you are still not convinced that consuming small meals 5 times a day is better than having 3 main meals like you have been used to, here are some benefits of switching to eating 5 meals a day

  • Decreasing Hunger

When you opt to just have three bigger meals throughout the day, you tend to feel quite hungry in between breakfast, lunch and supper. This leads to snacking, where more often than not we choose unhealthy food options since they are usually readily available and convenient.

On the other hand, when you eat 5 meals a day, every three hours, you do not give your body time to be extremely hungry. Since you are less hungry, you are bound to eat less at every given meal time (11). It is a fantastic plan for preventing overeating.
good snacks to eat

  • Eating Fewer Calories

As stated above, eating frequently means that you will feel less hungry in between and during meal times. The good thing about this is that you will inadvertently end up consuming less food and fewer calories. Lower energy intake usually leads to weight loss due to a calorie deficit.

  • More Opportunities To Consume Healthy Snacks

The best part about knowing that you have to eat every few hours is that you are bound to plan ahead. When you do this instead of waiting until the last minute, there is a higher chance that you will pick or prepare a healthy snack/meal. This increased intake of fruit and vegetables in your diet replaces junk food leading to potential weight loss.

  • Reduced Levels Of Insulin And Bad Cholesterol

A clinical trials done in 1989 showed that a ‘nibbling diet’ reduced fasting serum concentrations of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and apolipoprotein B. The research also showed that eating frequently may also have positive changes to insulin secretion (10).

An increase in amounts low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and apolipoprotein B puts you at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. On the other hand, a higher amount of insulin in the body may cause insulin resistance leading to hyperinsulinemia or type 2 diabetes once the pancreas shuts down (14).
5 meals a day

  • Lowers Chances Of Nutrient Deficiencies

When you are eating 5 meals a day, it’s quite hard for you to eat the same thing for all five meals. Even when you meal-prep making your lunch the same, you will be selecting differently between meals and breakfast. Through frequent consumption of smaller meals, you are more likely to consume different foods which adds a sense of versatility to your diet when compared to the regular large meals. This versatility ensures that your body consumes adequate concentration of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients.

  • May Increase Your Metabolism

Eating smaller, more frequent meals may aid in making your metabolism since your body is always burning off calories. Skipped meals can contribute to a slower metabolism that contributes to weight gain (9). People with faster metabolism tend to burn more energy and therefore won’t gain weight as easily.

Are There Any Cons To Eating 5 Meals A Day?

Yes, there are. They include

  1. Overeating – This will only happen if you opt for snacks that don’t satisfy you. Whenever to choose to eat, make sure that you will be satiated. Small meals do not mean that you should starve yourself. Neither does being on a caloric deficit diet. If you do not eat enough, chances are that you might overeat later and you will end up not losing weight.
  2. Mindless eating – Whether you are having 3, 5 or 6 meals a day, you should always be mindful of what you are consuming. In this case, a snack does not mean a whole bag of potato chips, eaten while watching Netflix. Neither does it mean eating all the fruits in one sitting. Your snack/small meals should be nutritionally dense and should fit in your daily allocated energy intake (3).

In this case, the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages greatly. How well this small meals, 5 times a day plan works, depends on you and your meal choices.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 5 Perfect Fitness Meals To Fuel Your Day! (2018,
  2. Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics (2020,
  3. Eating Frequency and Weight Loss (2015,
  4. Get in the Zone With a 40-30-30 Diet Plan (2018,
  5. How to Eat 5 Small Meals a Day (2012,
  6. How to Eat Five Small Meals a Day to Lose Weight (2019,
  7. How to Lose Weight by Eating 5-6 Times a Day (n.d,
  8. How many carbs should dieters eat for weight loss? (2018,
  9. How Small, Frequent Meals Can Help Athletes Keep Energy High (n.d,
  10. Nibbling versus gorging: metabolic advantages of increased meal frequency (1989,
  11. Should you eat three big meals or many mini-meals? (2017,
  12. What 1,200 Calories Looks Like (Fall Edition) (2019,
  13. What should my daily intake of calories be? (2019,
  14. What to know about hyperinsulinemia (2019,
150 million people
have chosen BetterMe

I've struggled to maintain programs…

I've struggled to maintain programs before, but somehow I've been able to stick with this. I enjoy the workouts and have made healthy changes to my diet with the challenges. Its nice for something to really have stuck and worked. I did the sugar free challenge and it's really changed how I relate to the signals my body is giving me about the food I'm eating.

Our Journey

This has been an awesome journey for my wife and I. Not only are we losing weight , but we are living a new life style. Our eating habits have been reformed by following the meal plan and our bodies have become stronger by simply doing the ten minute, sometimes twenty minute workouts. It really has been easy and convenient to transition into a healthier routine and has truly re energized our lives moving forward into the future.

It Works! This program is working for me!

lynne R.
This program is working for me! After a little over a month, I have lost 10 pounds. Slow, but steady. Guided exercises are done daily and there is an option to do other routines beside the one chosen for the day. It is very helpful having the recipes for all meals plus a snack. Would like if we could know the ingredients the day before. Makes preparing alot easier. I like the fact that alternative foods are suggested in case you can't eat(or don't like) the recipes listed. This is a very good program. Stick to it and YOU will see results. I have!