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Thursday 21st June 2018

Three meals a day better for dieters

24th September 2010

Researchers in the United States have found that 'grazing' on mini-meals throughout the day may be a less effective dieting strategy than sitting down to eat three meals a day.


In a study on overweight and obese men, participants reported feeling more satisfied when they ate three times a day, compared with a group that ate 'mini-meals' six times a day.

The study, carried out at Indian's Purdue University and published in the journal Obesity, fed the men on low-calorie, high-protein diets.

Study lead researcher Heather Leidy said the perception that it was better to eat little meals more often was called into question by the results.

Leidy, from the University of Missouri in Columbia, said that mini-meals did not seem to help people control their appetite throughout the day.

Previous studies on the same topic have had conflicting results, Leidy said.

Researchers randomly assigned 27 men who were overweight or obese to eat either a high-protein diet or a normal-protein diet for 12 weeks.

The diets were calculated to ensure that each man received 750 calories less than he needed to maintain his weight daily.

Study participants tried both eating patterns over the course of the study.

Those who ate the high-protein diet, which provided 25% of total calories from protein, reported feeling fuller throughout the day, were less hungry later in the evening and did not spend as much time thinking about food as those using the 'mini-meal' pattern.

The other pattern provided a diet with just 14% of the calories given in protein form.

The difference between eating frequency became apparent among men in the high protein group, who felt fuller in the evening and late at night after eating just three meals a day, compared with when they were fed six times a day.

Leidy said high-protein diets were better for appetite control, although she said the diet the men followed was not the Atkins diet.

She said the participants still ate an adequate amount of fibre and fruits and vegetables.

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