New study challenges meal frequency stereotypes about women

The University of Missouri recently published a new study disproving myths that people should stick to small portions of food several times a day in order to keep their metabolism in check. What the researchers claimed, especially for obese women, is that snacking constantly throughout the day may not be that good for their health, contrary to common belief.

The researchers looked into the effects that meal frequency has on blood-sugar and blood-fat levels on eight overweight women, who consumed 1,500 calories during two periods of 12 hours on two separate days. These calories were taken in the form of three liquid meals containing 500 calories each during the first testing period and six 250-calorie liquid meals on the second day. The researchers tested the sugar and fat levels in the women's blood every 30 minutes and established that they were substantially lower on the day when the women took three meals, Science Daily reported.

Eating larger meals fewer times a day rather than having smaller portions of food frequently could be more beneficial to obese women's health, Tim Heden, the lead author of the study, commented. This is because eating several times a day poses the risk of overeating or making unhealthier food choices. If women stick to the practice of taking larger but fewer meals, they will also reduce the risk of heart disease, he said.

The idea of consuming multiple smaller meals has been widely promoted by media and dietitians as a trusted way of boosting metabolism. When examining literature, however, no evidence supporting this has been found, which is why the researchers conduct the study, Heden noted.

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