Eating little and often not as important as counting calories for weight loss

Eating little and often not as important as counting calories for weight loss
Credit: Shutterstock

(Medical Xpress)—Eating small but frequent meals is often recommended for overweight adults trying to lose weight. However, research presented today at the Society for Endocrinology annual BES conference suggests that following this diet doesn't boost your metabolism or encourage weight loss, and ultimately, counting calories is all that matters for losing weight.

University of Warwick researchers have previously shown that eating a single high fat meal increases low level inflammation in the body through fragments of gut bacteria, known as endotoxins, entering the blood stream. This type of inflammation has been previously linked to a future risk of developing type-2 diabetes and .

In this study, researchers investigated whether eating often would cause repeated damage that could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in obese subjects. 24 lean and obese women were given two meals or five meals on separate days. The women consumed the same number of on both days and their was monitored using whole body monitor calorimeters.

The researchers, working at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, found that regardless of the number of meals they had, both obese and lean women burned the same number of calories over a twenty four hour period. They also found that at the end of each day, accumulated significantly higher levels of endotoxins after eating five meals compared to when they only had two.

Lead author of the study Dr Milan Kumar Piya said, "Our studies have identified two main findings; firstly that the size or frequency of the meal doesn't affect the calories we burn in a day, but what matters most for losing weight is counting calories. Secondly, by carrying more weight, more endotoxin enters the circulation to cause inflammation and eating more often will exacerbate this risk which has been linked to metabolic diseases such as type-2 diabetes."

The next step of the research is to assess the impact of , gut flora and calories burned in different people. "By understanding how diet affects inflammatory risk and energy expenditure, we will further our understanding of how we can better target diet intervention on an individual basis," according to Dr Piya.

More information: "Meal size and frequency influences metabolic endotoxaemia and inflammatory risk but has no effect on diet induced thermogenesis in either lean or obese subjects." Milan Piya, et al. Endocrine Abstracts (2014) 34 P226. DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.34.P226

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Attitude during pregnancy affects weight gain

Feb 26, 2014

Overweight or obese women with the mentality that they are "eating for two" are more likely to experience excessive weight gain while pregnant, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine.

Recommended for you

Weight stigma a daily experience for obese people

23 hours ago

Overweight and obese people experience many more episodes of being stigmatised in their everyday lives than was realised, with most suffering almost daily negative treatment, a UNSW-led study shows.

Berberine compound may play role in treating obesity

23 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Weight-gain warnings are especially uncomfortable during holiday seasons with all the oversized and double helpings of calorie-rich pies, creamy dips and savory holiday stuffings. Nonetheless, ...

Expanding waistlines weigh heavy on Malaysia

Nov 27, 2014

Malaysians have a passionate love affair with their lip-smacking cuisine—rich curries, succulent fried chicken, buttery breads and creamy drinks—but it is increasingly an unhealthy relationship.

Obese children burdened by more than weight

Nov 24, 2014

High blood pressure and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are two emerging health problems related to the epidemic of childhood obesity. In a recent study, researchers at University of California, ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.