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Eat Three Large Meals a Day for Healthy Metabolism

Update Date: Dec 07, 2012 03:55 AM EST

Contrary to the earlier beliefs that in order to set a healthy metabolism rate, one must eat smaller meals several times a day, a new study suggests that for obese women, this formula might not work.

"Our data suggests that, for obese women, eating fewer, bigger meals may be more advantageous metabolically compared to eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day," said the study's lead author, Tim Heden, a doctoral student in University of Missouri's Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.

"Eating larger meals less often lowered blood-fat levels. Over time, consistently eating fewer, larger meals each day could lower the women's blood-fat levels and thereby lower their risk of developing heart disease."

For the study, the researchers conducted two separate studies and looked into the effects of frequent meals on blood-sugar and blood-fat levels in eight obese women throughout two 12-hour periods, Medical Xpress reported.

All the participants were given 1500 calories, divided into three 500 calorie meals or six 250 calorie meals on different testing days. Throughout the 12-hours, the sugar and fat levels in the women's blood were tested every 30 minutes.

The findings of the tests revealed that women who consumed three meals had significantly lower fat in their blood.

"The mass media and many health care practitioners often advocate eating several small meals throughout the day," Heden said. "However, when we examined the literature, we didn't find many studies examining or supporting this popular claim. This lack of research led to our study, which is one of the first to examine how meal frequency affects insulin and blood-fat levels in obese women during an entire day of eating."

Obese individuals are at risk of cardiac diseases, and according to Heden, the findings of this research may be helpful for nutritionists and medical professionals to develop improvized strategies for the health of obese women.

"With multiple meals throughout the day, you have to be careful. If you start consuming several meals, there's more potential to overeat or to make unhealthy snack choices with easily accessible junk food," said Jill Kanaley, professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology and study co-author.

"Some people are good at making efforts to eat healthy snacks; however, most people aren't, and they end up taking in too many calories. The more times you sit down to eat, the more calories you're probably going to take in."

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