It has been fashionable in the dieting industry to say that eating you calories little and often throughout the day is the best way to lose weight. But new research has found that those who ate the same amount of calories in two meals experience greater weight loss.
It might sound like a dream come true: eat a big breakfast, followed by a large lunch, and still lose weight. But it could be a reality — if you skip dinner, research shows. The findings even suggested that those who grazed had a tendency to put on weight.
Research led by Hana Kahleova, of the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague, found that people with type 2 diabetes who ate two large meals a day lost more weight than when they consumed six smaller meals with the same amount of calories. Kahleova instructed 54 study participants to follow two types of eating plans for 12 weeks each: either six mini-meals or two larger meals. Both diet regimens included the same nutrient and caloric content - the daily caloric total reduced each person's intake by 500 calories. Half of the participants were provided with all of the meals, and registered dietitians regularly met with the volunteers.
The small study found that people with type 2 diabetes lost weight under both eating plans.
But eating a big breakfast and big lunch resulted in more weight loss – 1.23 points of their body mass index, or BMI. Eating the six smaller meals resulted in a loss of just 0.82 BMI points.
Eating two meals a day produced greater decreases in liver fat content, while there was a bigger increase of insulin sensitivity with the six-meal diet. "Our results support the ancient proverb: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper," Hana Kahleova said in the presentation. Other important factors in the study include the timing of the meals. Kahleova says breakfast should be eaten between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and lunch between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. This backs up the commonly held belief that skipping breakfast is harmful to weight loss. "Eating breakfast and lunch is more beneficial than skipping breakfast and eating lunch and dinner, because the fat storage is bigger in the afternoon and after the evening meal," Kahleova said.
But some experts are not convinced by the findings, saying that eating just two meals a day is impractical. Toby Smithson, a spokesman for the U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said that eating two large meals a day is unrealistic because for many, dinner is the one meal that they're able to reliably fit into their schedule. ‘Specifically for people with diabetes, with the mechanics of our body, it is best to spread out the doses of glucose ... throughout the day,’ she told NBC News.
But Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC's TODAYS's diet and nutrition editor, said that the most important lesson to take away from the research was that people should try to cut down the number of times they eat each day. She said: "It's really cutting down how often you eat, because you'll tend to eat less. Three meals a day is going to be more workable (...) When you translate it to real life, this could be a good way to go - hearty breakfast, medium lunch, and then a lighter dinner. Or you can mix and match, as long as you keep the calories low."
"These six mini meals turn into six major meals, and people wonder why they're not losing weight. So this is really good documentation, even though it's a small study, that eating less often can really help promote the same weight loss."
Moreover, this study confirms a 500-calorie reduction in intake, regardless of how you do it, results in weight loss. Both groups lost weight: this shows that calorie reduction matters.
Sources: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ , http://www.nbcnews.com/