Why big meals are better than snacking

Comment on this story
meal couple REUTERS One possible explanation is that chewing raises levels of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin.

London - Struggling to lose that spare tyre around your waist? Tuck in, say scientists.

A big breakfast and a large lunch is better at controlling weight and blood sugar levels than six small meals a day, researchers claim.

A study found that two hearty meals rather than constant snacking is best for people with type 2 diabetes – but could also benefit anyone trying to slim.

In tests, those eating big platefuls twice a day lost a quarter of a stone more than people who tend to dip in and out of the food cupboard.

The results seem to support the old adage: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and have dinner like a pauper.”

The latest study comes after a report earlier this month suggesting snacking is worse for health than three big meals a day.

Dutch researchers found that the frequent munching of high-fat and high-sugar foods increased cholesterol stores in the liver and fat around the waist – but eating larger portions did not.

The latest study led by a team from the Czech Republic looked at 54 patients aged between 30 and 70 who were being treated for type 2 diabetes – the most common form of the disease, which is usually controlled by diet.

They were asked to follow one of two diets, each containing 500 calories less than the recommended daily amount. One group of 27 ate six small meals for 12 weeks, while the second had a large meal at breakfast and lunchtime. Each group then switched regimens – which both had the same macronutrient and calorie content – and continued for a further three months. The research team took measurements of liver fat content, insulin sensitivity and the function of pancreatic beta cells – which produce insulin.

The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, revealed that body weight fell in both diets – but there was a greater loss for those eating bigger meals less often.

Those eating twice a day lost around half a stone (3.7kg), compared with just over a quarter of a stone (2.3kg) for the snackers. Liver fat content also reduced for both groups, but by a slightly larger amount for those on two large daily meals. Similar effects were observed in substances that are critical to diabetics.

The study showed more beneficial levels of chemicals such as the hormone glucagon and C-peptide, a protein involved in insulin synthesis, among people eating two meals a day.

Dr Hana Kahleová, of the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague, said: “These results suggest that, for type 2 diabetic patients on a calorie-restricted diet, eating larger breakfasts and lunches may be more beneficial than six smaller meals during the day. Further larger scale, long-term studies are essential before offering recommendations in terms of meal frequency.”- Daily Mail

Get our free Lifestyle newsletter - subscribe here...

Follow @IOLlifestyle on Twitter

Visit IOL Lifestyle on Facebook

sign up

Comment Guidelines

  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

  5. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles. You are only required to verify your email address once to have full access to commenting on articles. For more information please read our comment guidelines