If there is a subject of interest for anyone who wants to loose weight is the place of “snacking on a diet”.
You probably have already figured out the 2 main options when going on a diet: or you “eat 2 or 3 meals per day and nothing in between” OR you “eat when you are hungry, even if it means eating as much as 6-9 times per day”.
And you probably have tried both options…
There are many ways of looking at this situation. But let’s look first at what science says:
Researchers found that increasing meal frequency was associated with lower body weight in men, but not in women. On the basis of both animal and human research, other researchers have suggested that larger, less frequent meals increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
But one interesting affect of eating smaller, more frequent meals it is improves blood lipids. An epidemiological study found significantly lower blood concentrations of total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) but no difference in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) in people who ate smaller, more frequent meals. Smaller, more frequent meals appear to lower LDL-C primarily by reducing cholesterol synthesis in the liver.
A controlled clinical trial compared the effects of eating the exact same diet either as 3 meals daily OR by nibbling (17 snacks daily). Blood lipid and lipoprotein concentrations were measured after 2 weeks of meal eating or nibbling. TC, LDL-C, and apolipoprotein B decreased by 8.5%, 13.5%, and 15.1%, respectively. Aren’t these results impressive with 17 snacks per day???!!!
It seems likely that increasing meal frequency, independent of changes in body weight, will improve blood lipids and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in most patients. However, if snacking leads to weight gain, then it seems likely that its metabolic effects would increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Also very interesting it seems snacking may mimic some of the metabolic effects of low-glycemic index meals.
The metabolic impact of a low-glycemic index meal and a high-glycemic index meal is quite different. In some regards, a low-glycemic index meal MIMICS the impact of eating smaller, more frequent meals.
It seems likely that the improvement in glucose tolerance to a second meal following a low-glycemic index meal is due to metabolic changes that result from the delayed digestion and absorption. The slower absorption would be expected to suppress the release of FFA from adipose tissue. An elevated plasma concentration of FFA increases glucose intolerance by impairing insulin-mediated glucose disposal and enhancing liver glucose output. A higher plasma concentration of FFA also increases the production and release of very low-density lipoprotein triglycerides (VLDL-TG) from the liver.
In the 1930s, it was demonstrated that spreading out the glucose load (the amount of glucose delivered to the bloodstream over a set period) reduced insulin requirements in diabetics. This reduced need for insulin may be due to a diminished release of counter-regulatory hormones such as glucagon and catecholamines, which is related to the prolonged suppression of FFA that occurs when glucose enters the bloodstream more slowly.
A recent study examined the impact of a snack consumed after a standard lunch but before the subjects became hungry. The researchers fed subjects a snack (400 kcal) at various times after a 1300-kcal LUNCH when they were not hungry. The snack NEITHER reduced the amount of food consumed at the DINNER meal nor increased the time before the subjects requested their dinner meal. The results of this study suggest that SNACKING WHEN NOT HUNGRY may promote increased calorie intake and weight gain over time. When rich, highly palatable foods are readily available, food consumption may be triggered by mealtime or pleasure and not necessarily because of hunger or the need for extra calories. It appears that human beings have not evolved physiological mechanisms to prevent overeating when rich, highly palatable foods are readily available.
ANOTHER INTERESTING AND RECENT study examined the impact of feeding an isoenergetic preload consisting of 1/3 of the subject's average daily calorie intake either as a single meal or as several small meals. This study found that obese men consumed 27% FEWER CALORIES at their next meal (which was given 5 1/2 hours after the single meal) when the same food was divided into several small meals compared to when it was consumed as a single meal. The results of this study suggest that eating smaller, more frequent meals may help people feel satisfied while consuming fewer calories.
People who are overweight should also be discouraged from a cycle of starving and stuffing. Skipping meals and going hungry appears to increase the desire for foods with a high energy density. This is likely detrimental for weight control because foods with a high energy density generally provide less satiety per calorie, which may lead to consuming more calories over time. Eating large, infrequent meals also may promote obesity and contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes mellitus in genetically SUSCEPTIBLE people. All of these metabolic changes have been associated with an increased risk of atherosclerotic disease.
One obvious and big disadvantage of “eating 2 or 3 big meals” per day is to know what quantity to eat and when to stop eating. As most folks on Zero Carb were usually obese in the past, their relation with food may easily be screwed up. You probably all have experienced the “anxiety of hunger” which is the main pitfall of any kind of diet...
On this option, there is also a big risk of being LEPTIN RESISTANT, which will mean your satiety mechanisms are simply not working.
What about the “eat when hungry” option?
My first comment would be: maybe it is the best choice for any obese person? Logically, eating many small meals per day would keep your blood insulin constant (not necessarily high) and this is an interesting solution. But we all know how “eating when hungry” can cut down the stress of any diet and help getting results.
Surely, you have also to assure that adequate food items are available all day long wherever you are. And this is not an easy task. Surely, you will tend to eat more leftover or “quick food” items such as cold cuts, instead of eating 2 or 3 well prepared and freshly cooked meals on the other option.
Then, of course, you must also consider the effect on your health, just naming one, the effect on your teeth health of having food in your mouth all day long. Eating frequently increases the risk of tooth decay. When your teeth come in contact with food more often, the bacteria in plaque has more time to produce enamel-damaging acids.
One thing sure, anyway you go, the sum of the food at the end of the day must be the same on both ways OR the “eat when hungry” option will bring you nowhere.
In my own experience, I could go for month on “ 2 or 3 meals per day” with no problem but, then, for unknown reason, I had to switch for “eat as often as needed”.
Maybe switching from one mode to another is another option. It can be done, let’s say, according to your actual situation, “stress-wise”, “work-wise” whatever cause you to switch.
So what can we get of all these information?
Well, surely, any way you go, you have to favor what help you most to control your weight and only time, and experience, will tell you what is best for you.
For myself, I favor a small snack to cut down on appetite before larger meals. But this only work if I have planned ahead a larger meal which is “not that large”……