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Meal Frequency – Boosting Your Metabolism: busted as promised


Posted on April 22nd, 2009 by Matt Schoeneberger

A few weeks back we sent out a challenge to our blog readers and newsletter subscribers to send us more traffic.  They’ve answered the call, partially.  Our blog traffic has gone up considerably, so we’d like to bust one of the myths we promised.  This is really like getting a sneak peak at one of the most interesting sections of S.P.E.E.D.

Myth: I have to eat many small meals throughout the day to “boost my metabolism”.

Fact: Meal frequency has been shown to increase weight loss in some studies, due mostly to curbing hunger and helping the subjects adhere to the diet and not due to an increase in metabolic rate. (Smeet) However, research shows that when eating diets essentially identical in calories either through three or one meal(s)/day, the 1 meal per day group showed positive changes in body composition compared to the 3 meals/day group. (Stote) Metabolic rate has been shown to be no different between feeding patterns of 7 and 2 meals/day. (Verboeket-Van De Venne) Intermittent fasting (reduced meal frequency) with caloric restriction has been shown to have positive effects on life span and brain chemistry. (Mattson) So, there is no need to eat 6+ meals/day and it might just be more health promoting to eat less frequently, like 2-4 meals/day.

Mattson, M. P. (2005). Energy intake, meal frequency, and health: A neurobiological perspective. Annual Review of Nutrition, 25, 237-260.

Smeets, A. J., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Acute effects on metabolism and appetite profile of one meal difference in the lower range of meal frequency. British Journal of Nutrition, 99(6), 1316-1321.

Stote, K. S., Baer, D. J., Spears, K., Paul, D. R., Harris, G. K., Rumpler, W. V., et al. (2007). A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(4), 981-988.

Verboeket-van de Venne, W. P., Westerterp, K. R., & Kester, A. D. (1993). Effect of the pattern of food intake on human energy metabolism. The British Journal of Nutrition, 70(1), 103-115.

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One Response to “Meal Frequency – Boosting Your Metabolism: busted as promised”

  1. Amanda says:

    When I was working with a trainer before she created my meal plan for me and told me exactly what to eat and when….it was too much! I was eating when I was not hungry and she was having me eat so much food that I was forcing myself to eat it. I asked her about it and she told me that is how it is supposed to be. I am glad that I am not working with her anymore!

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