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YOUR Better Health Update | Eating Smaller Meals More Often

Meal timings, quantity and type of food consumed at different times of the day can influence food intake and weight change.

The time of day at which we eat and how frequently we eat over the course of a day are two factors that are thought to affect weight loss efforts. Different diets propose different approaches to meal frequency and timings, and there is some debate as to which approach is best for weight loss.

Researchers analysed data on the dietary habits of over 5000 people between the ages of 40 to 59 years, investigating the association between meal frequency and weight loss. The data included information on when and how often they ate and general dietary habits and food intake. The analysis showed that people who ate on at least six occasions over a 24 hour period consumed less total energy and had a diet containing more vitamins and minerals. Those who ate four or fewer times a day tended to be fatter and drank more alcohol at night.

As this was an observational study, the link between eating more frequently and weight loss cannot be confirmed. Healthier people in this study tended to eat more often, consume healthier foods and drink less alcohol of an evening. Eating small meals more frequently may help promote feelings of fullness and make binge eating less likely. It may also help to control cravings and prevent huge amounts being eaten in a single meal.

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