Is It Better to Eat Small Meals Throughout the Day?

eat small meals throughout the dayYou’ve probably heard people say that it is better to eat small meals or “mini meals” frequently throughout the day because it can help with weight loss. I remember several years ago reading that eating frequently will raise the metabolism and help keep the appetite under control but recently it seems that a lot of health fanatics have become more skeptical about this idea.

Because so many people believe that there are benefits to eating smaller meals more often researchers have investigated whether or not there is some truth to this.

There are Some Benefits

A study done at the Tabriz University of Medical Science was designed to see if there were any advantages to eating smaller meals frequently throughout the day instead of eating large meals less often. This study involved 15 people who followed two different diets plans with both of them having the same total amount of food.

small rice meal

  • The first diet plan had the test subjects divide their food into 9 small snacks that they would eat every two hours.
  • The other diet plan involved dividing their food into 3 meals that they would eat every 7 hours.
  • Both diet plans lasted for 3 weeks.

The researchers found that there were actually a few advantages to eating smaller meals more frequently. When the test subjects ate smaller meals more often they had

  • lower levels of bad cholesterol and harmful fats in their blood,
  • slightly higher levels of good cholesterol than they did when they ate larger meals,
  • and lower insulin levels which is great for preventing diabetes.

This study shows that there may be some advantage to eating smaller meals more often.

Does It Cause Weight Loss?

Now let’s look at whether or not such a diet plan helps with weight loss. Scientists at the University of Ottawa did a study to see if eating smaller meals more often increased the amount of weight people could lose. This study involved 8 overweight men and 8 overweight women who went on a weight loss diet.

small shrimp meal

  • Some were instructed to eat a total of 6 times a day.
  • Others were instructed to eat 3 times a day.
  • Both diet plans had the same number of calories.

What the scientists found was that both groups lost the same amount of weight and there was no advantage to eating smaller meals more frequently. This is actually one of the many studies that suggest eating small meals more often doesn’t increase weight loss.

Does It Increase the Metabolism?

As I mentioned already, there are those who think that eating more frequently increases the metabolism leading to weight loss. Researchers at King’s College London decided to put this theory to the test.

small meal platter

  • The experiment they did involved 18 overweight women who were asked to eat either 6 meals throughout the day or only 2 meals in a day.
  • Both diet plans had the same number of calories.
  • The diet plans lasted for 6 days during which time the test subjects had their metabolisms measured several times.

Researchers were not able to find a significant difference between the two eating schedules in terms of how they increased the metabolism. This study suggests that eating small meals more frequently doesn’t increase the metabolism as a lot of people think.

I use to really endorse the idea of eating smaller meals more frequently to lose weight but based on the research that has been done it seems that it’s not such a good strategy after all. While it may not help with weight loss it may still be worth doing since some studies have shown it lowers levels of bad cholesterol which is great for your cardiovascular health and lowers insulin levels which helps prevent diabetes.

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