Should You Be Eating Every Three Hours?

1 min read
intermittent fasting snacking every three hours olivia rodrigo reese witherspoon kim kardashian jennifer garner

A viral TikTok video is suggesting that eating every three hours can benefit a person’s mental health.

In a clip, that has amassed over 5.6 million views, content creator @audfin says: “7 years in therapy and one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is to eat something every 3 hours.”

@audfin DBT therapy changed the game for this broad #coffeetok #mentalhealthmatters ♬ Too many nights by metro boom in – ☆

Why it matters: This advice to eat every three hours flies in the face of the current popular health trends which are centered around intermittent fasting and deprivation.

  • In recent years, health experts have increasingly touted the purported benefits of intermittent fasting — which include longevity, weight loss, and lowering the risk of certain diseases.

  • Fitness influencers like Ben Azardi claim that eating every three hours is a surefire way to age faster and Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness brand Goop promotes “intuitive fasting.”

  • Along with intermittent fasting, the rise of drugs like Ozempic are changing the definition of what it takes to be thin and is pushing towards a future without food entirely.

But a small body of new research is suggesting that intermittent fasting may not actually have any health benefits.

  • A new study suggests that although intermittent fasting may lead to weight loss, it does not reduce inflammation, metabolic health, or insulin sensitivity.

  • A 2022 study of 24,000 Americans found that those who practiced intermittent fasting and ate one meal per day were 30% more likely to die from any cause in 15 years than those who ate three daily meals.

  • A 2022 study concluded that while fasting can give people a sense of accomplishment,
    it may lead to negative emotions and irritability. While a 2023 psychological study says that intermittent fasting puts people at heightened risk of binge eating.

The Potential Benefits of Eating Every Three Hours

  • Eating every three hours keeps blood sugar regulated, lower stress hormones like cortisol, and prevent dips in energy. It may also prevent overeating.

  • Research shows that irregular eating may play a role in the complex underlying causes of mood disorders. For example, studies show that individuals with depression or bipolar disorder exhibit disturbed internal rhythms and irregular meal times. While shift workers who have irregular eating schedules show increased rates of depression and anxiety compared to the general population.

  • There is an overlap between neural circuits governing eating and mood. Eating every three hours is an example of scheduled eating that could have psychological benefits.

The big picture: However, the mixed results in scientific research perhaps show that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for everyone in terms of nutrition.

There is mounting scientific evidence to show that people’s bodies react differently to different food and meal patterns.

In the future, the health industry could be based around personalized nutrition.