Weight Loss: Another Myth Bites the Dust

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Remember when olive oil and nuts were a big no-no for dieters? Then protein was in and carbs were out. Nowadays, some carbs are good, while others are not. It seems like every day one diet myth is exchanged for another and nutrition experts can't seem to agree on the best method to lose weight.

For years we've been told to "graze" or to eat five smaller meals throughout the course of the day instead of three larger ones in order to ward off hunger and boost metabolism. Guess what, that strategy apparently has no major effect in terms of weight loss.

Researcher Dr. Milan Kumar Piya, who is a lecturer with the U.K. National Institute for Health Research, presented his results in Liverpool, England at a Society for Endocrinology meeting. "If you eat two meals or five, as long as it's the same number of calories; there is no difference in energy expenditures, so there is no effect on weight loss."

Piya's research results were based upon a small study of 24 women, some of whom were obese while others were a normal weight. Each study participant was given two meals on one day and five meals on another day. Researchers then measured calories burned and also took blood samples during the trial period. Both groups burned the same number of calories over the course of 24 hours, it didn't matter whether they ate two or five meals in a day.

Michelle Kulovitz Alencar, an assistant professor of kinesiology, agrees with Piya's study, "In my own research, I have found that it's all about calorie intake not how the calories are spread out during the day, for weight loss results."

In light of the new research, should dieters go back to the standard three meals a day approach? Not necessarily. Although, this evidence may currently suggest that the best way to lose weight is by decreasing the number of calories being consumed, Piya doesn't recommend changing the number of meals that you prefer to eat, "You have your own ways of eating and doing things. As long as you eat fewer calories [to lose weight], you will be fine."

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