New Evidence for “Little and Often” Diets

New research has suggested that eating “little and often” is healthier for us. In fact, researchers suggest eating up to 9 times a day.

The idea of eating ‘little and often’ is not new, the theory being that grazing through the day would help to keep up the metabolism, maintain blood sugar and energy levels and therefore avoid over-eating or bingeing.

Scientists from Imperial College, London, compared the diets of more than 2,000 people who had the same calorie intake and food within a day. Half ate more than 6 times a day and half ate less often.

The less frequent eaters were noticeably heavier than those that ate more often and also had a significantly higher systolic blood pressure. The next stage of trial will focus on patients with high blood pressure who will eat either 3 or 9 meals a day to see the difference in their weight and health.

Researchers have pointed out that in practice, this does actually mean up to 9 small meals, not the simple addition of a few snacks. In fact, it has been shown that snacking throughout the day can lead to more weight gain compared with eating at regular times.

Timing of food seems to be a very important factor, sticking to regularly spaced meal times so that the body is not bombarded by a feast or famine scenario. In addition, it is not an excuse to eat more. Calorie intake needs to be tightly controlled to avoid simply taking on additional calories.

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