Research shows adults who eat small portions more frequently throughout the day, on average, weigh less and eat more healthy ingredients in comparison to those who eat fewer meals but in larger portions.
Eaters who ate fewer meals over 24 hours typically did their eating late at night, while complementing their food with alcohol. Researchers believe this pattern may be the reason those who eat fewer meals often have a higher body mass index.
Analysis of the research suggests eating more meals in a day predisposes diners to select more nutritious food with less calories, perhaps because many unprocessed and natural foodstuffs, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts are usually ready to eat with little preparation time required. The overall effect is the consumption of fewer calories thus maintaining a lower body mass index.
Another factor linked to eating frequent small meals, which may play into healthier food choices, is that eating more times in the day reduces hunger throughout waking hours. This means hunger never has a chance to build up to a critical level which can lead to throwing good intentions aside and settling for a high calorie fast food meal.
The study itself was a large one and designed to observe the eating habits of 2,385 adults over a period of three years. Data gathered from the study showed participants who ate less than four times a day had an average body mass index of 29.0 while consuming a daily average of 2,742 calories. Considering that a body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 ranks as normal and 25 to 29.9 ranks as overweight, it is clear participants who ate fewer meals were on the heavier end of the spectrum.
In contrast, participants who ate six or more times per day showed an average body mass index of 27.3 while consuming just 2,129 calories. This is because frequent eaters tended to eat foods with low calorie counts but high nutritional values
Eaters of less frequent meals followed an eating pattern indicative of those who eat out at restaurants, where portions are large and the ingredients of less nutritional value. Adding to this trend of higher calorie consumption and less nutrition was the fact that those who dine out often consume alcoholic beverages while they eat.
These findings all point toward what may become a key strategy in combating the obesity epidemic in the U.S., eating small amounts of nutritional foods more frequently throughout the day.
Sushi Roll Maru Sushi East Hills Grand Rapids Food by Steven Depolo is licensed under CC BY 4.0
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