Small Frequent Meals? Bad Idea for Weight Loss.


Bloomberg News is reporting on some very interesting weight-loss news. (I guess there’s not much going on in the financial world…) Two Large Meals a Day Tops Six Mini-Meals for Weight-Loss reveals evidence that contradicts the hallowed advice to eat several small meals per day if you want to lose weight.

Here’s what’s important:

“Over 12 weeks, people with Type 2 diabetes who ate just breakfast and lunch lost an average of 1.23 points in body mass index, or BMI, compared with a loss of 0.82 point for those who ate six smaller meals of the same nutritional and energy content. The data, in a small study involving 54 patients, were presented today at the American Diabetes Association meeting in Chicago.

The study builds on previous results disproving the theory that eating more frequently improves weight loss. That pattern, thought to work because it helps control appetite, was shown to produce no more weight loss than three regular meals in a 2010 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The latest report eliminates one additional meal.

In today’s study, sponsored by the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Health, both the frequency of the meals and the timing were important, according to Kahleova. Eating earlier in the day — just breakfast, between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and lunch, between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. — is associated with better results than skipping breakfast, she said.

Two meals a day also led to a greater decrease in liver fat content and a bigger increase in insulin sensitivity than six smaller meals.”

I find it very interesting that the researchers recommend skipping dinner instead of breakfast. That counters what I’ve been doing and what I’ve learned as a good fasting strategy. As I’ve said in recent posts (here and here), I like the idea of continuing the nighttime fast well into the day, then eating later in the day.  In fact, in recent weeks I’ve been trying to eat two big meals on my fast days: a mid-day meal and an evening meal. Perhaps I’m doing this less than optimally if this recent study is accurate.

I think the big picture is that we should spend several hours not putting food in our mouths. There is mounting evidence that being hungry for a while is a good thing. Clearly in this country we eat too much food.  It seems we not only eat too much–we eat too often. Further, the weight-loss gospel that a small-frequent-meal strategy aka “grazing” may be entirely wrong.

If you’re interested in this topic, there are a couple of worthwhile articles from Dave Tate’s site  Logic Does Not Apply Part I: Meal Frequency and Part II: Breakfast are well-referenced and interesting. Both discuss and support the idea of a) skipping breakfast and b) spacing out our meals by several hours.  The writer notes though that small frequent meals throughout the day may be best for putting on weight.  So if you’re looking to gain a bunch of muscle then eat often!



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