Three meals, five meals -- this new study says throw all those meal counts out the window. It says the only count that should matter is the calories.
British researchers who published their findings in the "Society for Endocrinology" put this theory to the test.
They studied 24 women age 34 to 42 -- some were average weight and some were obese.
Each group was given either two large meals or five smaller meals but a full day's calorie count for both groups was the same, regardless of how many meals they ate.
The study found that women who ate two big meals in a day burned the same amount of calories as women who ate the smaller, more frequent meals.
The researchers concluded -- it's the amount of calories, not frequency of meals that matter.
However, they did notice one small difference between the groups -- the overweight women who ate more meals a day had more inflammation in their body after they ate than the women with a more normal weight -- and inflammation is something that has been linked to heart disease and diabetes.
Now -- this study was done over an extremely short time, so some experts caution that the conclusions are limited and that you should stick to your current meal plan. suggesting that if you suddenly switch the number of meals you eat each day, you could throw your body off its routine -- increasing hunger, and derailing your plans to lose weight.
But something this study and other health experts are most likely to agree on -- that the best overall approach to weight loss seems to be -- counting calories.