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

March 27, 2014, University of Warwick
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.

Explore further: Fatty meals could trigger inflammation for diabetics

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

Related Stories

Fatty meals could trigger inflammation for diabetics

March 21, 2012
(HealthDay) -- High-fat meals might boost inflammation in people with type 2 diabetes, a new study says.

Protein followed by exercise is recipe for calorie-burning success in some women

March 24, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—New research shows that for some women, a high-protein meal followed by 30 minutes of moderate exercise is an effective way of burning calories, especially when compared to exercising on an empty stomach.

Eating fewer, larger meals may prove healthier for obese women

December 6, 2012
Media articles and nutritionists alike have perpetuated the idea that for healthy metabolisms individuals should consume small meals multiple times a day. However, new research conducted at the University of Missouri suggests ...

Attitude during pregnancy affects weight gain

February 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.

African-American women must eat less or exercise more to lose as much weight as caucasians

December 19, 2013
African-American women may need to eat fewer calories or burn more than their Caucasian counterparts to lose a comparable amount of weight, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in a ...

Do diet drinks make you eat more?

January 16, 2014
(HealthDay)—Overweight adults often turn to diet beverages to help them slim down, but this tactic might backfire, new research suggests.

Recommended for you

Evening hours may pose higher risk for overeating, especially when under stress, study finds

January 16, 2018
Experiments with a small group of overweight men and women have added to evidence that "hunger hormone" levels rise and "satiety (or fullness) hormone" levels decrease in the evening. The findings also suggest that stress ...

Bariatric surgery prolongs lifespan in obese

January 16, 2018
Obese, middle-age men and women who had bariatric surgery have half the death rate of those who had traditional medical treatment over a 10-year period, reports a study that answers questions about the long-term risk of the ...

Sugar-sweetened drinks linked to overweight and obesity in children, adults: Analysis of new studies

December 23, 2017
A new review of the latest evidence on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)- which includes 30 new studies published between 2013 and 2015 (and none of them industry sponsored) - concludes that SSB consumption is associated with ...

As income rises, women get slimmer—but not men

December 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—A comprehensive survey on the widening American waistline finds that as paychecks get bigger, women's average weight tends to drop.

Policy and early intervention can curb obesity rates

December 18, 2017
More information and emphasis on dietary lifestyle changes that prevent obesity, and its comorbidities, have not reduced the rise in obesity in U.S. adults and adolescents, according to a recent study in the New England Journal ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

0 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.