Obese women may benefit from fewer, larger meals

Researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) have discovered that eating fewer, larger meals a day may be beneficial for weight loss, which is contrary to the popular belief that several, small meals are conducive to a healthy metabolism.

“Our data suggests that, for obese women, eating fewer, bigger meals may be more advantageous metabolically compared to eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day,” noted study author Tim Heden, a doctoral student at MU. “Eating larger meals less often lowered blood-fat levels. Over time, consistently eating fewer, larger meals each day could lower the women’s blood-fat levels and thereby lower their risk of developing heart disease.”

During the study, eight obese women consumed either three meals that were 500 calories each or six meals that were 250 calories each. Heden and his colleagues monitored the blood-sugar and blood-fat levels of the participants every 30 minutes over a 12-hour period each day. The results showed that the women who had three meals had lower blood-fat levels.

Heden commented that while the media may advise people to eat multiple smaller meals, when he analyzed studies on the topic, there was not a lot of research to back up these claims, and the MU study was the first of its kind to look for a correlation between meal frequency and fat and sugar levels.

Another one of the study authors, Jill Kanaley, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, noted that multiple meals increase the likelihood of overeating or indulging in unhealthy foods.

Obesity statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 35.7 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese. This can lead to a slew of medical condition such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain kinds of cancer. In 2008, nearly $147 billion in medical fees was accrued due to obesity-related conditions, and the medical costs for those who suffer from obesity are nearly $1,429 greater than those who do not have weight issues.

Healthy eating habits
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends maintaining a diet that is rich with fruits, vegetables and whole grains that is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and sugar.

People should also monitor the amount of calories they consume. The NHLBI reports that women who are trying to lose weight should eat between 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day while men can consume up to 1,600 calories a day. The National Institutes of Health also reports that vitamin D can be conducive to weight loss. People can get vitamin D from fortified cereals, sun exposure and a Skinny D supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.