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Weight loss tip #203: Have two big meals instead of six!

Studies don't support eating more frequent meals.

You have heard the virtues of eating smaller meals throughout the day. Every health expert from dieticians to physicians recommend to weight watchers and diabetics alike that eating five to six smaller meals could be the key to having a smaller waistline. Frequently noshing on smaller, healthier meals keeps the metabolism buzzing, which can control blood sugar and hunger cravings. At the end of the day, you are satiated and you end up consuming lesser calories. BUT... that might just sound great theoretically. But did you know that the tip could actually backfire and cause more weight gain.

Many weight watchers like me who followed the rule of smaller meals throughout the day found that there wasn't any significant difference in their weight even months after following the regimen. When I started maintaining a diary with inputs of my caloric intake, I noticed that although the portion sizes were smaller, I was having one too many meals, adding more calories to my daily limit. The trouble is that the tip works only if you keep a track of the calories and snack on healthy foods. Otherwise, there is a risk of overeating and increasing your caloric intake for the day. After all, weight loss is all about calories in and calories out.

It turns out that I wasn't wrong after all. Findings of two studies validated my concerns. A 2010 study was the first to refute the claims that small meals cause weight loss. It showed that eating more frequent meals a day did nothing to impact weight loss at all.1 Another study conducted in Prague tested the same hypothesis on 54 patients who had type 2 diabetes. The group was asked to follow a calorie-restrictive diet plan of either six small meals or two big meals, comprising a breakfast between 6 and 10 am, followed by lunch between 12 and 4 pm. Both the plans consisted of the same amount of calories and macronutrients. But it was the ones who ate two huge meals who experience maximum weight loss.2

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Although just eating two huge meals would be a little extreme, it is always advisable to go for three normal-sized meals a day. Not only will it spare you from the hassles of constantly stocking up on snacks, it will also keep a check on caloric intakes.

Read the previous weight loss tip. Click here for more such weight loss advice.

References:

1. Cameron, J. D., Cyr, M. J., & Doucet, E. (2010). Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. British journal of nutrition, 103(8), 1098-1101.

2.Kahleova, H., Belinova, L., Malinska, H., Oliyarnyk, O., Trnovska, J., Skop, V., ... & Hill, M. (2014). Eating two larger meals a day (breakfast and lunch) is more effective than six smaller meals in a reduced-energy regimen for patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised crossover study. Diabetologia, 57(8), 1552-1560.

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