Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals for Weight Loss

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Hi Hungry Girl,

I've heard that having multiple "mini meals" throughout the day can be better for weight loss than having three big meals. What's your take?

Mulling over Mini Meals

Mini Meals vs. Three Square MealsDear Mulling,

Great question. Some experts say that eating five or six mini meals is better for weight loss, while others suggest sticking to three square meals. There are pros and cons to each plan, and different eating methods work for different people. Whichever way you go, the total number of calories you consume is what matters most for weight loss.

That said, I'm definitely a fan of mini meals! If you never let yourself get too hungry, you'll be less likely to overdo it when lunch or dinner comes along. Plus, having small meals multiple times a day gives your body a steady stream of nutrients, which can keep you energized and satisfied throughout the day. Another bonus? If you're one of those people who isn't hungry for a big meal first thing in the morning, a mini-meal approach is much smarter than simply avoiding breakfast -- skipping a.m. eating can actually lead you to consume more calories overall throughout the day.

Ready to embrace the mini-meal method? Here's how to do it HG-style...

1. Remember, calories count. Don't let a mini-meal mentality turn into all-day grazing. Start by determining the total number of calories you're aiming for each day; then divide that by the number of mini meals you plan on having. So if your daily goal is 1,300 calories, go for five 260-calorie mini meals OR six minis with around 215 calories a pop. And the total calories don't need to be evenly distributed. You might want to have two meals at 350 calories each and three minis with 200 calories apiece. Bottom line? Plan ahead, and keep a tally! A food journal is a fantastic tool for this.

2. Be prepared with smart on-the-go snacks. Just because they're called "mini meals" doesn't mean they have to be traditional meals. If you're eating five to six times a day, you'll want some grab-n-go options. Here are a few of my top picks: Quest Bars, single-serve tuna pouches, Fuji apples, 100-calorie packs of nuts, fat-free Greek yogurt, jerky, reduced-fat cheese snacks, and hard-boiled eggs. For more favorites, click here. Mix 'n match...

3. Have mid-calorie recipes on hand. Mini meals are more about calorie counts than the size of the dishes, so you'll want a solid supply of go-to recipes that meet your calorie needs. Check out the massive roundup of HG favorites below!

4. Need a little more guidance, in the form of a detailed weight-loss plan that lets you eat five to six times a day? Try the Hungry Girl Diet. Each day on the plan includes three meals and three snacks -- perfect if you prefer a mini-meal-like approach to weight loss. Although, I wouldn't call the meals miniature... They're pretty large and satisfying! If you're looking for a specific but flexible food plan, check out The Hungry Girl Diet. If you'd rather just mix and match your way to weight loss, check out The Hungry Girl Diet Cookbook.

Remember, everyone's different, and the weight-loss plan for you is one you can stick to. If you try mini meals and find that you can't keep your total calories under control, consider cutting out the snacks and sticking to three square meals. If three meals with no snacks leads you to go overboard at meal time, try mini meals and see how that works for you!

And now... the recipes!

Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Peaches & Greens Smoothie Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Waffle B-fast Casserole Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Egg Mugs Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Apple Pie Overnight Oatmeal Parfait
Peaches & Greens
(281 Calories)
Waffle B-fast
(231 calories)
Egg Mugs
(117 - 221 calories)

Apple Pie Overnight
Oatmeal Parfait
(322 Calories)

Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Tuna Taco Salad Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Pizza-fied Chicken Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Fettuccine Hungry Chick-fredo Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Mashie-Topped Meatloaf Cupcakes
Taco Tuna Salad
(278 calories)

Pizza-fied Chicken
(272 calories)

Fettuccine Hungry
(260 calories)
Meatloaf Cupcakes
(280 calories)

Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Shrimp 'n Slaw Marinara Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Cauliflower Fried Rice with Chicken Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Zucchini So Lo Mein with Chicken Mini Meals vs. Three Square Meals: Big Beef Chili
Shrimp 'n Slaw
(289 calories)
Cauliflower Fried Rice
with Chicken
(288 calories)
Zucchini So Low Mein
with Chicken
(277 calories)
Big Beef Chili
(189 calories)

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Today, July 8th, marks an important date in Hungry Girl history. On this day back in 2008, we debuted our Holy Moly Guacamole! Whip up a batch in honor of the delicious, low-cal dip...

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