This depends on what your goals are. Most women require about 2000 calories to maintain weight while men need approximately 2500 calories daily. When going about losing weight, women need 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 for weight loss or maintenance (1).
Someone trying to gain weight or build muscle will need to eat more than someone trying to lose weight. Here is a five-meal-a-day diet plan menu for someone trying to build muscle . You can determine your estimated daily energy intake using an online calculator using the Mifflin St-Jeor equation.
Protein pancakes – 2 servings
1 cup raw oats, 1/2 cup liquid egg whites, 1 cup cooked chickpeas, 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt, one scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp cinnamon, one 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, one 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
One fl oz water, 1 cup frozen blueberries, one scoop Dymatize iso-100, 1 oz raw maca powder, one scoop Dymatize glutamine powder
Cals: 303. Fat: 2 g, Carbs: 42 g, Protein: 30 g
Salmon and mixed greens
1 tbsp olive oil, one 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. Many small meals a day, instead of three big ones, do not matter as long as your calorie intake does not change.
If you want to lose weight by eating five meals a day, 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.
What Time Should I Eat My 5 Meals A Day?
It is advisable to eat your meals every two to three hours (2). An example of having five meals a day every three hours would be as follows
- Breakfast – 07:00 am
- Snack/2nd breakfast – 10:00 am
- Lunch – 1:00 pm
- Snack – 4:00 pm
- Dinner – 7:00 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 five meals a day
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 (3). It is a great plan for preventing overeating.
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 consume less food and fewer calories. Lower energy intake usually leads to weight loss due to a calorie deficit.