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3 Meals vs. 6 Meals — What’s Best?

Wow, last the blog suggesting "stop thinking" to truly transform your body really peaked the interest of a lot…over 120 "likes" on FB and a handful of comments.  Glad it struck a nerve.

It’s time to bring up another hot topic in the world of nutrition.

How many meals to eat for the BEST results.

There’s a general consensus that eating smaller, more frequent meals is best for fat loss and general health.

You’ll be more full.

You’ll better control your blood sugar.

You’ll better control your hormones.

And, at the end of the day, this means you’ll lose more fat and keep your muscle.

But it is TRULY that simple?  If you eat the same number of calories spread out through multiple meals vs. eating just a few meals/day that magic bullet for fat loss?OK

This question was part of my PhD dissertation … and now more current research has looked at this same thing.

A friend from the University of Missouri — Dr. Heather Leidy — published her research in the journal, Obesity, asking this very question.  And Heather is no stuffy lab scientist who barely knows how to spell the word exercise.  She IS a smart scientist, but feels right at home in the gym training as well.

So let’s quickly look at her publication. 

3 meals.  6 meals.  What’s best?

In this small study of just 27 overweight or obese men, subjects were assigned to "high" protein diets (25% of their calories) or regular protein diets (14% of their total calories).  Then, they were also divided into 3 meals/day (~5 hours apart) or 6 meals per day (2-3 hours apart).

The higher protein group DID report being more full throughout the day, in the evening, and later at night.  This isn’t surprising as there’s no doubt protein is more filing than either carbohydrate or protein. 

But, interestingly, the group randomly assigned to eat just 3 meals per day reported feeling more full than the group eating 6 meals/day

Hmmm, this is interesting.  For years and years, lay audiences, magazines, etc have suggested smaller, more frequent meals is the BEST approach.  Now Dr. Leidy’s research suggests otherwise.  Maybe the smaller, more frequent feedings is more than it’s cracked up to be.

What do you think — leave a comment on the blog?  Here are our thoughts…

Mohr Results Bottom Line:  There is actually very little data on this topic as a whole.  Eating smaller, more frequent meals isn’t always feasible for people who are at the office or have less "freedom" throughout the day to make smart food choices.  We do encourage the use of great snacks — like raw nuts and fruit, for example — but the overall diet quality seems to be the biggest issue more so than the frequency of eating as a whole.

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