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Lose more weight eating just 2 meals a day

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Two large meals a day resulted in greater weight loss than eating 6 smaller ones

If you want to lose weight, you’ve probably heard that eating several mini-meals throughout the day is the best way to do it. But a new study presented at the American Diabetics Association (ADA) conference last weekend suggests that a better diet plan may be eating two large meals a day instead.


It makes sense when you consider how “grazing” on mini-meals all day long would seem to leave a dieter "wanting", as in wanting more food because a small mini-meal just doesn't satisfy the appetite like a larger meal can.

Indeed, a small but growing body of evidence indicates that “grazing” on several small mini-meals throughout the day is not a wise way to control your appetite. And research shows it may actually make you gain weight.

In the study presented over the weekend at the ADA conference in Chicago, researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes lost more weight when they consumed two large meals a day than when they ate six smaller mini-meals with the same amount of calories.

For the study, researchers from the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague instructed 54 diabetic participants to follow two different diet plans for a period of 12 weeks each. One plan was to eat six mini-meals throughout the day, and the other was to eat two larger meals for just breakfast and lunch. Each of the two diet plans had the same nutrient and caloric content.

Although the participants lost weight under both diet plans, eating two large meals – a big breakfast and a big lunch – resulted in more weight loss than the six small meals throughout the day. Specifically, the volunteers lost 1.23 points of their body mass index (BMI) when they ate just two large meals a day, compared to losing only 0.82 points when they “grazed” on six smaller mini-meals.

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BMI is a key index relating weight to fat. It is used to provide a measure of body fat. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) now defines normal weight, overweight, and obesity according to BMI instead of traditional height/weight charts. A person of “normal weight” has a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.
In this study, the average BMI for participants was 32.6.

While eating just twice a day resulted in more weight loss, experts in the field question whether skipping dinner is something the average American can do over an extended time, especially if they’re diabetic.

“National surveys suggest that most Americans, including those with diabetes, eat five or six times a day, so to curb eating to only two times a day would be a change that would be drastic and dramatic and unrealistic for many people,” said Elisa Zied, a registered dietitian from New York.

Other experts say eating two large meals a day is impractical given that many people view dinner as the only reliable meal they can fit into their busy schedules.

"Specifically for people with diabetes, with the mechanics of our body, it is best to spread out the doses of glucose ... throughout the day," explained Toby Smithson, a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Whatever the case, it’s important to know that the research presented at the ADA conference was based on a small study, and has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Nevertheless, you can read more by clicking on the link under SOURCE below.

SOURCE: American Diabetes Association, “The Effect of Drequency of Meals on β-Cell Function in Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes” (June 23, 2013)