What’s the better way to lose weight? 3 small meals and 3 snacks a day? or 2 big meals with no snacking?
A research project that was presented at the recent American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions Conference in Chicago has shown that a small number of big meals are actually more effective for weight loss. The results are based on a small study of 54 participants in the Czech Republic. They were divided into 2 groups – one had just breakfast and lunch, and the other had 6 mini meals interspersed throughout the day.
Both groups consumed the same amount of daily calories, which was about 500 calories less than their base consumption in order to induce a weekly weight loss of 1 pound. The participants dieted for 12 weeks, after which their BMI (body mass index) change was measured. The 2-meal group lost 1.23 points, while the 6-meal group lost only 0.82.
This study is very interesting and raises a few points:
- In a less controlled environment, would the people who are supposed to eat only twice a day really be able to fast for almost 20 hours every single day?
- Does eating 6 times a day increase the chance of overeating? It’s 6 opportunities to overeat vs. just 2 times in the other program.
- Is eating just twice a day even practical for people with diabetes who need to control their blood glucose levels more carefully?
- Is eating just twice, earlier in the day practical for most Americans, for whom the main meal of the day is dinner in the evening?
Our take? The move from 3 square meals a day to multiple snacking opportunities and small meals sounds good in theory, but in practice simply encourages a “grazing” mentality and over-consumption of calories as a result.
How many times a day do you eat?