A recent study from Prague indicates that type 2 diabetes may be better controlled with two large daily meals as opposed to the “grazing” pattern of eating that has been recommended for controlling metabolism. The study divided a group of 54 diabetics into two groups, one of which ate two large meals per day and the other six small meals. Both groups consumed the same number of calories. The group eating two large meals had greater success in reducing waist circumference and weight, and also lowered their liver fat content, had better insulin sensitivity, and improved their fasting glucose levels more than the group eating small daily meals.
The study was published in the February edition of Plos Medicine. Lead author Dr. Hana Kahleova says their study, along with others, shows that it may be more beneficial to eat larger meals at breakfast and lunch, and no dinner, or a very small meal. The diets for both groups reduced their typical daily calories by 500, but the participants who ate two large meals a day lost 1.23 points of their body mass index (BMI) compared to a loss of 0.82 BMI points in the group who ate six small meals. Weight loss for the group eating two meals per day was an average of three pounds more than the six-meal-per-day group over the course of the study.
Kahleova told the BBC that the group who consumed only two large meals were concerned that they would get hungry in the evenings. What they actually found was that their hunger feelings were lower because at their two large meals they had eaten until they were satisfied, which could help control weight gain and diabetes. Researchers involved in the study said that people who graze all day never really experience the feeling of being comfortably full. Plus, those who eat six meals a day may overeat at every meal rather than actually consuming only small portions.
Another recent study showed that obesity was not the only link worth investigating. Also published in the February edition of Plos Medicine, this study from the Steno Diabetes Center in Denmark followed 6,700 people working in London for a five-year period. None of the study participants had the disease at the start of the study, but by the end of the five years 645 people had developed it. The findings suggest that weight loss programs should focus more on helping the majority of people who are slightly overweight to lose small amounts of weight rather than encouraging large weight loss goals for those considered obese. The study conclusion is that, although obesity is sometimes a predictor for developing type 2 diabetes, that it is not always the reason.
The Denmark study showed that most people diagnosed with the disease did not tend to develop it until they had been overweight or obese for several years. Researchers from the Prague study on controlling diabetes and losing weight through two large daily meals admit that their findings need follow-up with larger samplings and longer study periods, but the findings indicate that the two-meal-a-day eating pattern could be useful for anyone trying to lose weight, not just diabetics. Combining the results of the two studies might indicate that two large meals per day may prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes through weight control that avoids chronic obesity.
By Beth A. Balen