Are Six Meals Better Than Two? Recent Study Shows Lean Mass Gains on Std. Energy-Reduced Diet W/Out Differences in Fat Loss W/ 6 vs. 2 Meals/Day - Do You Have to React?
|Do the results of the latest randomized controlled cross-over study from the California State University mean that you have to change your eating habits? Find out in today's SuppVersity Article!|
More specifically, Michelle Kulovitz Alencar et al. (Alencar. 2015) set out to deterimine whether
either a two meal (2MF) or six meal frequency (6MF) regimen can improve body composition and blood-based markers of health while consuming a portion-controlled equihypocaloric diet.
|Figure 1: Overview of the study design (Alencar. 2015) | Explanation of the indices: (a) resting metabolic rate, (b) blood pressure (c) visual analogue scale, (d) area under the curve|SuppVersity Classic: Grazin' Study Shows: Increased Eating Frequency Bad For Obese and Lean Men. Reduced Diet-Induced Thermogenesis and Blunted Lipolysis Could Promote Future Weight Gain | read more.
- The 6MF pattern participants were instructed to consume allocated meals/snacks every 2-3 hours while awake.
- Meals provided to participants were defined as an eating occasion with a caloric intake between 200 and 300 kcals, while a snack was defined as an eating occasion with a caloric intake between 100 and 200 kcals.
- Throughout all treatment conditions, food products were identical and participants received the identical assortment of pre-packaged food products containing 1,200kcal/day with ~75g/day of protein and a macronutrient ratio of 52% carbohydrates, 27% protein, and 21% fat.
- Participants consumed their designated meal pattern eating only Nutrisystem® meal products which were supplied to the participant. Participants also supplemented this diet with a limited selection and quantity of Nutrisystem®-approved fresh fruits and vegetables. The additional fresh items added accounted for only approximately 187 kcals/day, or 15% of daily caloric intake of the participants’ daily total of ~1200 kcals per day.
- The participants consumed identical food products throughout the study.
At the same time a cross-over design like this "virtually" doubles the number of subjects. The same obviously goes for the data Alencar et al. could use to compare the effects of the two meal frequency patterns on body composition, glucose, insulin and lipid components by their individiual responses to a test meal.
Why four meals during the "washout"? During the washout phase participants were instructed to consume the allocated meals and snack (a total of four occasions per day) every 3-4 hours while awake. The washout phase was chosen as 4MF because it was the average number of eating occasions of the participants prior to participation.Speaking of the effects. As you may have guessed from my preliminary remarks in the introduction, both groups successfully lost (p≤0.05) body mass (=total weight | 2MF: -2.8 ± 1.5 vs. 6MF: -1.9 ± 1.5 kg) - in fact with a slight but highly non-significant "advantage" for the two-meal pattern.
|Figure 2: Changes in body composition and resting metabolic rate in both groups (Alancar. 2015).|
- Alencar, Michelle K., et al. "Increased meal frequency attenuates fat-free mass losses and some markers of health status with a portion-controlled weight loss diet." Nutrition Research (2015).
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- Koopman, Karin E., et al. "Hypercaloric diets with increased meal frequency, but not meal size, increase intrahepatic triglycerides: A randomized controlled trial." Hepatology 60.2 (2014): 545-553.
- Romero-Corral, Abel, et al. "Accuracy of body mass index in diagnosing obesity in the adult general population." International journal of obesity 32.6 (2008): 959-966.