|Frequent Meals Are a Good Thing For Young Kids But Not For Older Ones Who Will Self-Select Their Snacks|
Obviously, we are not all the same, and I did never imply that one or another of the the extra-ordinary SuppVersity readers will thrive on a six+ meal a day regimen. What most people who freaked out totally forgot, though, is that said article was not about a study in which the subjects eat as much as they wanted. It was a study with restricted energy intake.
What I really wanted to highlight is thus, that with any diet that delivers less nutrients than you would need in given time period, even a non-significantly higher decrease in basal energy expenditure in response to an increase in meal frequencies is significant! It's significant with respect to the longstanding claim that "eating frequently will keep your metablism running, when you're dieting"... a claim the study by Kahleova et al. would clearly refute.
But enough of these dict chestnuts. Let's take at the latest contribution researchers from the , University of Ulster have recently made to the never-ending debate about the "optimal" meal frequency (Murakami. 2014; Note: If there is one thing, I can tell you for sure, it's that there is no one-size fits it all optimum!)In contrast to the previously cited study, the study Kentaro Murakami and M. Barbara E. Livingstone published in the 111th issue of the British Journal of Nutrition is based on epidemiological data from British children aged 4 –10 years (n=818) and adolescents aged 11– 18 years (n=818).
The scientists assesssed the dietary intake was assessed using a 7 d weighed dietary record. The exact meal / eating frequency (EF) was calculated based on all eating occasions, except for those providing, 210 kJ (57.3kcal) of energy. Based on the available data on metabolic risk factors (i.e. total, HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations, TAG concentration, BMI z-score, waist:height ratio, and systolic and diastolic blood pressures), Murakami & Livingstone eventually calculated the age, sex, social class, physical activity, levels, protein, fat, total sugar and dietary fibre intake, as well as ratio of reported energy intake to estimated energy requirement (EI:EER) adjusted adiposity, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risks for the kids and adolescents.
"Subjects with a higher EF were more likely to be boys (only adolescents), be in nonmanual social class and be physically active (only children). Additionally, EF was positively associated with EI:EER, EI and energy-adjusted intakes of carbohydrate and total sugar and inversely associated with energy-adjusted intakes of protein, fat (only adolescents), starch and dietary fibre." (Murakami. 2014)What? Well, ok, let's make it easier: The well-off kids ate more frequently and were more active. Boys who were more active ate more frequently.
|Figure 1: Difference in macronutrient and total sugar intake between kids and adolescents who eat 3-4 meals per day and those who consume 6 meals or more, i.e. the first and third tertile of eating frequencies (Murakami. 2014)|
- significantly more energy (relative to their needs),
- significantly more carbs, and total sugar, as well as
- less protein, starch and dietary fibre
- Kahleova, et al. "Eating two larger meals a day (breakfast and lunch) is more effective than six smaller meals in a reduced-energy regimen for patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised crossover study." Diabetologia (2014). Ahead of print.
- Murakami, Kentaro, and M. Barbara E. Livingstone. "Associations of eating frequency with adiposity measures, blood lipid profiles and blood pressure in British children and adolescents." British Journal of Nutrition 111.12 (2014): 2176-2183.