For obese women, eating fewer, bigger meals may be more advantageous metabolically compared to eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. That's according to University of Missouri health experts who are challenging the idea that for healthy metabolisms individuals should consume small meals multiple times a day.
Researcher Tim Heden and colleagues looked at how meal frequency affected blood-sugar and blood-fat levels in obese women throughout two 12-hour periods on two separate days. All of the women consumed 1,500 calories. During the two different testing days, the participants consumed three 500-calorie liquid meals or six 250-calorie liquid meals. Throughout the 12-hour time frames, the researchers tested sugar and fat levels in the women's blood every 30 minutes. The researchers found that the women who consumed three meals had significantly lower fat in their blood.
"Eating larger meals less often lowered blood-fat levels," said Heden. "Over time, consistently eating fewer, larger meals each day could lower the women's blood-fat levels and thereby lower their risk of developing heart disease."
The findings challenge the advice provided by dieticians who advocate eating several small meals throughout the day. "When we examined the literature, we didn't find many studies examining or supporting this popular claim," said Heden. "This lack of research led to our study, which is one of the first to examine how meal frequency affects insulin and blood-fat levels in obese women during an entire day of eating."
Heden's research appears in the journal Obesity.
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Source: University of Missouri