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3 Square meals better than 6 Mini-meals for Weight Loss

Struggling to control one’s appetite with “mini-meals” may not be that effective after all for weight reducers. Eating a real meal three times a day may be a better strategy for weight loss, according to a recent research. However, the caloric intake must be significantly less than what one would need to maintain current weight. In this study, it was less than 750 calories per day.

A high protein diet–but not an Atkins-type of diet–also seemed to be better for controlling appetite than a relatively lower protein content in the diet.

Dr. Heather J. Leidy and colleagues from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, showed in their study that overweight and obese men on low-calorie, high-protein diets felt more satisfied and less hungry when they ate three times a day compared to when they ate small meals six times a day.

Previous studies on effect on appetite control of eating frequency have had conflicting results, so Dr. Leidy and her colleagues investigated this aspect in their study wherein they randomly assigned 27 men who were overweight or obese to eat either a high-protein diet or a normal-protein diet for 12 weeks.

Both diets contained 750 fewer calories than each man needed to maintain his current weight. The authors reported that starting at week seven of the study, the men ate their assigned diet either in three meals spaced five hours apart, or in six meals eaten every two hours, for three days in a row. The study participants then switched to the other eating pattern for an additional three consecutive days.

The authors noted that men eating the higher protein diet (25 percent of total calories from protein)—eating three regular meals a day—felt fuller throughout the day, and were able to control their appetite especially late at night. They were also less preoccupied with thoughts of food than the men who had less proteins in their diets (14 percent of their total calories). However, other experts warn that a high protein diet may be bad for patients with chronic kidney problems.

The study confirmed that high protein diets are better for appetite control. However, Dr. Leidy clarified that the high-protein diet used in the study is not the same as that recommended in the Atkins diet. “We very clearly want people to know that this is not an Atkins-style diet. You’re still getting an adequate amount of fiber and fruits and vegetables with these diets,” she explained.

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