New study counters claim that eating small meals throughout the day is healthier
A common diet some people practice is eating a number of smaller meals throughout the day, instead of the typical three meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
A common diet some people practice is eating a number of smaller meals throughout the day, instead of the typical three meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The thinking behind this approach to losing weight is that the body's metabolism is triggered more often and can more easily break down the smaller amounts of food. With larger meals, the body may be more labored with digesting, as opposed to the incremental absorption of smaller snacks.
However, snacking throughout the day may be more harmful to keeping off weight than a few larger meals, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Missouri (MU).
Consistent, smart eating habits
"The mass media and many healthcare practitioners often advocate eating several small meals throughout the day," said lead study author Tim Helden, doctoral student in the MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. "However, when we examined the literature, we didn't find many studies examining or supporting this popular claim. This lack of research led to our study, which is one of the first to examine how meal frequency affects insulin and blood-fat levels in obese women during an entire day of eating."
Larger meals vs. smaller snacks
"Our data suggests that, for obese women, eating fewer, bigger meals may be more advantageous metabolically compared to eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day," said Heden.
According to Heden, over time, women who eat larger meals fewer times each day can potentially lower their blood fat levels and cut their risk of developing a heart disease.