|The "average Westerner" is fat. That's for sure, but is it actually possible that it is the often recommended increase in meal frequency which is to blame for that?|
In a one of a kind human study, the researchers assigned 36 lean, initially healthy men to a 40% hypercaloric diet that was meant to emulate the contemporary food intake of US kids who get ~ 27% of their daily energy intake from high fat and high fat + high sugar snacks.
Instead of randomly adding a bunch of Snickers bars, Twinkies and DingDongs to the subjects diets, the researchers from the Department of Endocrinology & Metabolism had their subjects consume their "snacks" either with their three main meals, or as a true snack, 2h thereafter:
- Nutridrink Compact ® liquid meal with nutritive value of 240 kcal/100 ml (16% protein, 49% carbohydrates (mainly maltose and poly- saccharides), 35% fat (mainly unsaturated)).HFHS-size group: high-fat-high-sugar (HFHS) diet using Nutridrink Compact ®three times a day, consumed together with the three daily main meals.
The high-sugar liquids were commercial soft drinks sweetened w/ 50% glucose and 50% fructose and had 43.3 kcal/100 ml.
- HFHS-frequency group: high-fat-high-sugar (HFHS) diet using Nutridrink Compact ® three times a day, consumed two to three hours after each meal.
- HS-size group: high-sugar (HS) diet using commercially available sucrose-sweetened beverages three times a day, consumed together with the three daily main meals.
- HS-frequency group: high-sugar (HS) diet using commercially available sucrose
sweetened beverages three times a day, consumed two to three hours after each meal.
|Figure 1: Changes in body composition and resting energy expenditure on hypercaloric diets with different snacks & meal frequencies (Koopmann. 2014)|
Eating too much and eating too frequently
In the end, the real news is obviously not that there are purported genetic outliers, but rather that these people are often not at a genetic advantage. In 99% of the cases I know in person, I had to realize that these guys and gals have a funny way of "intermittent fasting". Contrary to the average obese person complaining about his or her "genetic disadvantage", these folks still know the meaning of satiety and mix days with exorbitant energy over-consumption with days on which they skip breakfast, have a snickers for lunch and a regular dinner. That's certainly not healthy, but it keeps them lean and misleads bystanders and even close friends to assume that they were at a "genetic disadvantage", when the latter is in fact rather the result of eating too much and eating too frequently.
- Koopmann, et al. "Hypercaloric diets with increased meal frequency, but not meal size, increase intrahepatic triglycerides: A randomized controlled trial." Hepatology (2014). Accepted Article.
- Thomas, Diana M., et al. "Dynamic model predicting overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity prevalence trends." Obesity (2013).
- Zoncu, Roberto, Alejo Efeyan, and David M. Sabatini. "mTOR: from growth signal integration to cancer, diabetes and ageing." Nature reviews Molecular cell biology 12.1 (2011): 21-35.