This is perhaps one of my favourite topics that I enjoy explaining to new clients. The answer is NO.
Media likes to pick on single hand studies to get a great story, one of them was a study which showed that little and often was better than gorging at the end of the day. There are hundreds more showing that isn’t true.
I know the whole “keep the fire burning” by eating little and often sounds cool and sort of makes sense but that’s not how the body works.
Eating often through the day may help with controlling hunger, maximizing energy levels which could lead to more total calories burned through the day simply because one has more energy and may be moving around more often, quicker and train harder for longer at the gym but not because he/she simply eats little and often. This is also known as TDEE- Total Daily Energy Expenditure.
Our bodies are just like cars, we need fuel so we consume calories which provide us with energy. If we under-eat below our calorie maintenance ( the amount of calories your body easily maintains it’s weight based on your current TDEE) it will have to get energy from readily available fats and proteins stored in the body. If you were to top up your car 4-5 times through the day, do you think you’d cover more mileage? I think we all agree that is not the case, the same happens with the body in layman’s terms.
Some people actually find little and often increases their appetite, I’m one of those.
In short, little and often doesn’t affect your metabolic rate but may impact energy levels through the day. Manipulating the amount of food you have per each meal may also affect your performance in the gym and your lifestyle in general. The fire won’t go out if you add wood less often, just make sure you still add the same amount at the end of the day.