It is better to eat six meals than three meals a day, while keeping total calorie intake constant, to improve the blood sugar control and hunger in obese people with pre-diabetes or diabetes, warns a study.
According to researchers, using a six-meal pattern instead of three-meal, while containing the same overall calories, improved blood sugar control and reduced hunger in obese people with prediabetes or full-blown diabetes.
Lead researcher Dr Emilia Papakonstantinou from the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece, together with colleagues from the Athens University Medical School, Attikon University Hospital and Harokopio University, compared the effects of two meal patterns with identical calories on glucose metabolism and satiety.
This research compares the effects of eating either three or six meals per day while keeping total calorie intake constant.
The team analysed 47 obese individuals who were divided into three groups consisting of two groups with prediabetes and one group with full blown T2D.
They were given a specially designed weight-maintaining diet over the 24-week duration in which they were asked to consume in a three or six-meal pattern for 12 weeks before swapping over.
The weight of participants was assessed in every two weeks and they were quizzed about their subjective hunger, satiety and desire to eat.
Although body weight remained stable throughout the study, the participants who had been following the six-meal plan saw a decrease in their glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and post-oral glucose tolerance test blood glucose levels (indicating improved blood sugar control).
In the groups with prediabetes, the six-meal plan decreased the occurrence of abnormally high insulin levels and delayed the time taken for blood glucose to peak following ingestion of sugars.
All three groups reported significantly reduced hunger levels and less desire to eat after following the six-meal plan compared to when they were eating three meals per day.
The results suggest that increased frequency of meals, consumed at regular times, may be a useful tool for doctors treating subjects with obesity and diabetes or prediabetes, especially those who are reluctant or unsuccessful dieters.
The research is presented at European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting in Lisbon, Portugal.