There is a famous saying in Hindi, which translates to:

"In a day -- A person in Yoga (Yogi - SAtvika) eats 1 time, A Consumer (Bhogi - RAjasika) eats 2 times and and a Sick (Rogi - TAmasika) person eats 3 times [or more]".

Probably this is a folklore.
However, according Bhishma, a righteous person should eat twice:

Two times have been appointed by the deities for human beings to take their food, viz., morning and evening. During the interval one should not eat anything. By following this rule about eating, one is said to observe a fast. [Anusasana parva]

  • What do other scriptures say about total meals per day (1, 2 or more)?
  • Many medical practitioner & gym trainers promote for 6 small meals against 2 full meals for everyone -- common man or bodybuilder. Is it ok?
  • If twice eating is prescribed then out of breakfast, lunch and dinner, which has to be skipped?
  • vedabase.com/en/sb/7/12/5 Sep 25, 2017 at 10:34
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    Yes will try to post, But actually this is the only verse I found , so answer will be incomplete then, but surely will try :) Sep 25, 2017 at 10:49
  • if we look at Ayurveda texts like Charak Samhita , here he is actually recommending us to to take the quantity and no. meals according to prakriti of individual. Also it varies according to Tri-Doshas and during sickness etc, and varies according to seasons , but unfortunately the direct answer i.e no. of meals to be taken on all these conditions is not given. :) Sep 25, 2017 at 13:20
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    yes, eating exactly twice a day (morning & night) is equivalent to upavaas (fasting). similarly joining with spouse on only prescribed days is equivalent to brahmacharya (celibacy). Of the 3, breakfast has to be skipped. after madhyanika & aradhana (ijjai) which should be done around noon time, food is to be consumed. similarly, after sayam-sandhya and night has fallen, dinner. eating multiple small meals gives lot of work to digestive system, so not good. that saying is also correct - what it means is, only Rogi cannot sustain on 2 meals due to poor digestion, so he HAS to eat 3.
    – ram
    Sep 25, 2017 at 23:27
  • 1
    @ram & SwiftPushkar .. Pretty good insight. Why don't you post an answer. BTW why do you feel breakfast has to skipped. According to guidelines in India (& world) breakfast is the most important meal. Why can't dinner & lunch be merged to evening meal?
    – iammilind
    Sep 26, 2017 at 2:11

4 Answers 4

What do other scriptures say about total meals per day (1, 2 or more)?

For a Grihastha (Householder), Dharma Shatsras has prescribed to take food two times, in Morning and in Evening. But if one has already taken excess of food in morning, he should not eat second time (in evening).

Apastamba Dharma Sutra, PRASNA II, PATALA 1, KHANDA 1

  1. He shall eat at the two (appointed) times, (morning and evening).

Vishnu Smriti, Section LXVIII

  1. Let him not take a third meal (over and above the two regular meals in the mornings and evenings), nor let him ever take unwholesome food. He must eat neither too early, nor too late, and he must take no food in the evening, after having fully satiated himself in the morning.

Manu Smriti, Chapter 4

न भुञ्जीतोद्धृतस्नेहं नातिसौहित्यमाचरेत् ।
नातिप्रगे नातिसायं न सायं प्रातराशितः ॥ ६२ ॥

He shall not eat anything from which oil has been extract ed; he shall not commit gluttony; he shall not eat very early in the morning, nor very late in the evening; nor in the evening, if he has eaten in the morning.—(62).

And for a Vanaprasthi (Hermit), Dharma Shastra has prescribed one time meal only.

Manu Smriti, Chapter 6

नक्तं चान्नं समश्नीयाद् दिवा वाऽहृत्य शक्तितः ।
चतुर्थकालिको वा स्यात् स्याद् वाऽप्यष्टमकालिकः ॥ १९ ॥

Having collected food to the best of his ability, he should eat it at night, or during the day; or he may do it at every fourth time, or at every eighth time.—(19).

Please check the commentary of Medhatithi for explanation of fourth time or eighth time.

Vishnu Smriti, Section XCV

  1. He must eat at night.

  2. He may eat after having fasted entirely for one day, or for two days, or for three days.

Many medical practitioner & gym trainers promote for 6 small meals against 2 full 
meals for everyone -- common man or bodybuilder. Is it ok?

From the above verses, it is clear that taking 6 small meals in a day is not OK.(This is my understanding)

If twice eating is prescribed then out of breakfast, lunch and dinner, which has to be 

From the above verses, it is clear that one should only eat in Morning and Evening.


Assuming standard sunrise & sunset at 6am & 6pm, the day is divided into different parts for different activities:

  • 4.24am - 6 - brahma muhurtham (actually 2 muhurtams, since 1 muhurtam = 48 minutes) - snanam, sandhyavandanam

  • 6 - 8.24 - pratah kalah - veda adhyanana (learning)

  • 8.24 - 10.48 - sangava kala - danam (both giving & taking), items for puja

  • 10.48 - 1.12 - madhyanika kala - madhyanika sandhya, tarpana, vaisvadeva, ijjai (bhagavad aradhana/neivedyam), manushya yagna (feeding athithis), finally bhojana (if no sraddham on that day)

  • 1.12 - 3.36 - aparahna kala - sradhham, purana adhyanana, veda adhyapana (teaching)

  • 3.36 - 6 - sayam kala - snanam, sandhyavandanam

  • 6 - 7.24 - bhojana

  • 7.24 - 9.48 - bhoga
  • 9.48pm - 4.24am - nidra

Source - http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part19/chap10.htm

Above is ideal way of living, for brahmanas. For modern days, instead of full-blown-heavy breakfast, we can have milk with jaggery, or buttermilk, or pazhayadu (previous night's left over cooked rice that was immersed in water), or fruits like banana that was offered to Bhagavan previous day.

Same above menu for evening 'tiffin'. This reduces the amount of cooking house ladies have to do, the utensils they have to clean, the kitchen they have to tidy up, cos its unnecessary burden on our mothers, sisters, wives etc.
Avoid dosa, idli, chutney, upma, bhel puri, pani puri, samosa, ice cream etc. every day, unless these items replace dinner.

There is a 4th part of that folklore:

  1. eka (1) bhojanam - yogi (saint)
  2. dvi (2) - bhogi (enjoyer)
  3. tri (3) - rogi (diseased)
  4. chatvari (4) - drohi (traitor)

Eating only twice a day = you get benefits of upavaas (fasting)

Joining with wife only on prescribed days = you get benefits of brahmacharya (celibacy)

You might have heard story of Krishna and Durvasa claiming to be nitya brahmachari or nitya upavaasi. They are bhagavan and maharishi, so their actions are spiritual without material desires or attachments. But if a layman asks how they can make those claims, above two methods give shastric allowance for fasting & celibacy.

  • The routine you mentioned says 'bhojana' at evening. But you also assumed sunset at 6 pm and sunrise at 6 am . So, if the 1st prahar starts from sunrise then the 5th prahar or (1st Prahar of night) happens to be at 6 pm . But scriptures say not to consume food or sleep during that time. So why did you include 'eating' at that time?
    – LSSJ Broly
    Nov 27, 2022 at 8:32
  • @LSSJBroly - correct, food & sleep & sex are to be avoided during sandhya times. they are also to be avoided during puja or when guests are active in your home, but i didn't mention those because it is understood by common sense and you have to look at the context. the entire day is being divided into exact portions of 96 minutes each. so i cannot leave out times of sandhya. once day is divided, then we can say - within this approximate 1.5 hours, with exception of sandhya, puja, guests etc. etc. you can eat/sleep/sex
    – ram
    Dec 24, 2022 at 1:22
  • Ok.. Understood
    – LSSJ Broly
    Dec 24, 2022 at 2:42

The article Tips for Eating Healthy – How, When and What to Eat offers a lot of information from Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on eating right. A few extracts from the article, pertinent to your specific question on the number of meals one should take per day (bold emphasis in the body of the text is mine):

When to Eat


#2 Digestion Matters - Eat According to Your Age and Activity


If you are over thirty-five years of age – unless you are an extremely physically active person or have some medical issue – two meals a day would definitely be healthier for you. The body will adjust itself to this slowing down, but if you are conscious about how you eat and what you eat, you can adjust it more sensibly. If you are eating more, you are burdening the system unnecessarily. You no longer need that much food because your vertical growth is completely over. If you feel a little hungry or tired, a fruit in between should take care of you. If you can maintain this, you will live very well. It is economical, eco-friendly, and you will be healthy.

#3 Two Meals a Day and No Snacking in Between!

When the digestive process is happening in the stomach bag, the purification of the body on the cellular level almost shuts down. So if you keep eating through the day, the cells retain impurities for a longer period, which creates various problems over a period of time. Even the excretory process from the intestines does not happen efficiently because the waste material will keep coming to the colon at different times instead of at once.

If the colon is not clean, you are asking for problems. In Yoga, we say that an unclean colon and psychological disturbances are directly connected. If the colon is not clean, you cannot keep your mind stable.


But suppose you eat just two big meals a day and nothing in between (like we normally do in the ashram), or if you are too active you may eat a fruit in between, then your colon will always remain clean. In the Yogic system, we say there must be a minimum of six to eight hours between one meal and the next. If that is not possible, at least a five-hour gap is a must. Less than that means you are causing trouble to yourself.

#4 Mind and Body Function Best on an Empty Stomach


If you want to function at your full potential, be conscious and eat that kind of food where within 1.5-2.5 hours, your stomach bag becomes empty and the food material moves to the intestine. The body does not consume so much energy from that point. And within twelve to eighteen hours, the food must be completely out of the system. This is what Yoga always insists. If you maintain this simple awareness, you will experience much more energy, agility and alertness. These are the ingredients of a successful life irrespective of what you have chosen to do.

#5 Dinner Time and Bed Time

There must be three hours after the evening meal, before you go to bed. If this includes at least 20 to 30 minutes of light physical activity – such as simple walking – your system will largely be healthy. If you go to bed with food still inside the stomach, it generates a certain level of inertia in the system. Physiologically, this inertia is like an acceleration towards death. Death is ultimate inertia.

Another dimension is that if you go to bed with a full stomach, it puts pressure on other organs in the abdomen. This will also lead to various kinds of health issues. For that reason too, it is very important that before you go to bed, the food you have eaten has moved out of the stomach. As you sleep in different postures, the stomach should not put pressure on other organs at any point.


This is what the Padma-Purāṇa says -

Chapter 49, Sṛṣṭi-khaṇḍa, Padma-Purāṇa

देवानामेकभुक्तं तु द्विभुक्तं स्यान्नरस्य च ॥ १२७.ख ॥
त्रिभुक्तं प्रेतदैत्यस्य चतुर्थं कौणपस्य तु ॥ १२८.क ॥

Gods eat once only, men eat twice, spirits and demons eat thrice and those who feed on dead bodies eat four times (a day).

English Translation by N.A Deshapnde

  • Therefore, godly people (or saint like people) eats once a day.

  • Normal Humans should eat twice a day.

  • Demonic peoples eat thrice a day.

  • Eaters of dead bodies (like non-veg, etc.) eat four times a day.

So the ideal eating regime as per scriptures, for normal humans ought to be twice a day meal.

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    So does that mean (we) people are like demons in today's life? 😂
    – LSSJ Broly
    May 1, 2022 at 16:10
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    Hahah. Well I oscillate between the first three. I'm a Vegetarian. But, for me too, with present times lifestyle & schedules, demands to be Demonic, unfortunately :(. 😂 @LSSJBroly
    – Vivikta
    May 2, 2022 at 1:26

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