You may have read in the past that eating mini meals throughout the day is a smart way to lose weight. The thinking there is that by grazing every couple hours, you never get to that point where you’re starving—meaning you’re less likely to wolf down way too many calories in one sitting. But a new multi-university study, published in journal Appetite this month, claims that all of the research thus far on eating small meals throughout the day is inconclusive—and as a result, mini meals should not be touted as a smart weight-loss strategy at this point.
So how’d the researchers come to this conclusion? They analyzed all of the previous studies done about meal frequency and found that the majority of them used self-reported data—which, in the dieting world, is considered pretty unreliable.
So we asked Keri Gans, R.D., author ofThe Small Change Diet, for her take on the results. “Most people don’t understand what a small meal is—so the people in the study may have reported eating one thing when in reality they were eating full meals every couple of hours, not mini meals,” she says. In other words, the danger with this strategy is that you may end up overeating because you take in too many calories at each “mini” meal.
Gans’ suggestion: If you’re trying to slim down, eat a 400-500 calorie meal every three to five hours. Also, have a 200-calorie snack, like a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit, between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner. And be sure to get your workout in, too.
Women’s Health Magazine