One meal or three--which is better?
Should you eat three meals daily, nibble your way through six meals every day, or just one meal a day, if you are basically healthy.
There have been many diet books offering their secret meal eating pattern to guarantee weight loss, but in the end, successful results from every popular diet have been attributed to calorie control.
So, aside from weight loss, do the number of daily meals have any impact on your health?
Blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol
New research shows that restricting yourself to one meal daily may adversely impact blood sugar and lipid biomarkers in a temporary, reversible manner.
Scientists found that after eight weeks of eating all daily calories and nutrients at one time rather than during three meals, people had significantly higher blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol, as well as greater hunger.
On the other hand, they had significantly reduced fat mass and cortisol (Stote KS, A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April, 2007).
They also found changes in blood sugar metabolism, including higher morning fasting glucose levels, and delayed insulin responses (Carlson O, Impact of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction on glucose regulation in healthy, normal-weight middle-aged men and women, Metabolism, December 2007).
All effects were temporary and returned to normal when the people returned to a three meal daily program.
While there was no apparent long term harm from eating a single meal per day only, it may be better to develop the habit of eating several healthy calorie-controlled and nutrient-rich meals daily.
Help control calories with green tea for a snack at 0-2 calories.
Learn about the
anti-aging effects of calorie-controlled nutrient-rich diets here.
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This page last updated by Sharon Jones on February 28, 2013
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