Friday, October 14, 2016

Does Higher Meal Frequency Lead to Wight Loss?

For some time, many people have felt that eating a higher number of small meals per day will likely cause a person to lose weight. And some studies do show that increasing meal frequency from, say, three meals per day to six meals per day, does lead to weight loss and improved metabolic health. But again, some studies show that an increasing meal frequency does not lead to weight loss or improved metabolic conditions.

A 2014 study, published in the International Journal of obesity, investigated the effectiveness of meal frequency on 119 overweight Hispanic children who were 8 to 18 years old. The investigators compared infrequent eaters, or eaters who ate less than three times a day, with frequent eaters, or eaters who ate three or more meals a day. The investigators concluded that "the [meal] frequency is related to decreased obesity and metabolic disease risk in overweight Hispanic youth, despite increases in energy intake."

However, in another study reported in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study's investigators suggested that the higher meal frequency does not show any advantages. In the eight-week study, obese subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group contained subjects who ate three meals per day, where each subject consumed the same amount of calories. And the other group contained subjects who ate six meals a day. Again, each subject in this group consumed the same amount of calories. The investigators concluded that the subjects in the two groups "lost significant and equivalent amounts of weight."

Further, the investigators indicated that "studies have found that increased meal frequency doesn’t appear to significantly enhance diet-induced thermogenesis, total energy expenditure or resting metabolic rate."

So the opinions on the effectiveness of meal frequency are indeed mixed. It might be that for some people, a higher meal frequency may be effective, and for others, a higher meal frequency might not be effective. More randomized controlled studies are warranted. This is the only way that usable evidence can be gained.


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