The myth of eating frequent smaller meals for weight loss





New research demonstrated that eating normally-sized, balanced meals is more effective than eating small meals at shorter intervals. Smaller, frequent meals seem to have no effect in appetite and satiety whereas more substantial meals are better for appetite control.


There’s also some interesting research from the University of Copenhagen in 2012 studying the effects of enzymes – therefore manipulating enzymes could be the ticket for effective weight loss. Enzymes have an on-and-off switch so understanding how they work is a major breakthrough: being able to switch on the enzyme lipase, for example, which is responsible for fat loss, could considerably help those struggling to lose weight. In the food industry, enzymes are added to processed foods to extend their shelf life and improve taste. Lipase is normally produced in the pancreas and the stomach – people suffering from conditions like Crohn’s Disease tend not to produce enough lipase therefore not absorbing enough nutrients from food. Being able to supplement one’s diet with lipase can make a difference. There is no food source of lipase.


Is eating small and frequent meals just a fad then? Researchers confirmed that eating three main meals with the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats and fibre and the correct portion size is the right way to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Having to plan only three main meals is also more manageable than planning six meals and ensuring that each snack is healthy and balanced.


The study looked at adult obese and overweight males and they were either given a three-meal diet made by 14 percent from protein, 60 percent from carbohydrates and 26 percent from fat; or a high-protein diet with 26 percent of fat, 25 percent from protein and 49 percent from carbohydrates. The protein content in the high protein diet totalled 200 calories per meal.


Those eating the high protein diet showed they managed to control their appetite better because they felt full.


Eating small meals at short intervals was reported as being difficult to maintain as it meant frequent interruptions at work.


The main message is to add protein at each meal to feel full and avoid snacking between meals.