Is Six Meals Per Day REALLY Better For Overweight People?

Several media outlets are today reporting that overweight people should start eating six meals per day if they want to lose more weight.

six meals per day for weight lossMany even go on to claim that eating six meals can help you achieve better results despite eating more calories.

So, today I’ll answer the burning questions regarding this research:

  • Does that mean you’re dieting wrong?
  • And can you increase your weight loss results by switching to six meals per day?

Or is this just the latest in a long line of mainstream media BS…

Let’s get stuck in.

is six meals better than three

The Six Meals Study

It’s been all over daytime television this morning, and here it is as reported by The Telegraph, and here in the The Independent.

But does the study confirm what the headlines are telling us?

During the trial, researchers from the Agricultural University of Athens compared the effects of a low calorie diet on two groups of participants to determine whether meal frequency played an important role in the reversal of type 2 diabetes.

  • Group A ate 3 meals per day
  • Group B ate 6 meals per day

Following a 24 week period, the researchers noted that the second group of subjects (6 meals per day) reported feeling less hungry than the first group, and that their body’s were able to maintain blood sugar levels more easily.

Great news!

This confirms that you’ll lose more weight by eating 6 meals per day, right?

Actually…

No.

What Does This Mean?

All this study really confirms is that if you have diabetes you’ll be able to control your blood sugar more efficiently by having smaller, more frequent meals.

That’s great news if you’ve got type 2 diabetes, and confirms that with a combination of healthy eating and exercise we can indeed reverse the effects of diabetes.

But when we look at what the media took from this study and reported to the public, it’s total BS.

First of all, the indication that you can eat more calories and still lose more weight just by switching to eating 6 meals per day is completely fabricated. Both groups in the study were placed on diets containing the same total calories.

To put it simply, the laws of thermodynamics still apply regardless of what time you ate your last meal. 5000 calories per day is still 5000 calories per day.

Any media outlets reporting that 6 meals a day gives you some kind of free food pass are simply lying to you.

how many meals a day to lose weight

The second problem here is how it’s been reported.

Take a look at this article and it’s accompanying images from Cosmopolitan.

Suddenly, we have people running around stuffing their faces under the assumption that they can eat like Scooby Doo as long as they only do it six times a fucking day.

A binge divided by six is still a binge.

Remember, as far as weight loss goes calories are king.

In fact, a 2013 study from the University of Colorado discovered that for weight loss purposes increasing meal frequency from 3 meals to 6 meals had zero effect on metabolism or the amount of body fat burned. (1)

Remember, this is the same media who once told you to stop eating carbs, and to put butter in your coffee to burn more fat. Take what they say with a pinch of salt (not that they’d let you eat that either).

All this new study shows is that folks with type 2 diabetes may be able to improve blood sugar levels by having smaller, more frequent meals versus three larger ones, while still eating the same amount of total calories (i.e. they’re still sticking to their diet).

Heck, the researchers actually state in the study notes that the body weight of the participants remained stable throughout.

So if weight loss is your primary goal then the main thing you need to pay attention to is getting yourself into a calorie deficit. It’s no more complex than that.

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how many meals per day to lose weight

References:

  1. Ohkawara K., et al. Effects of increased meal frequency on fat oxidation and perceived hunger. Obesity, 21, 336-343

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