A study on nearly 2,700 men and women aging between 40 and 50 showed that those who had solid food six or more times in a day typically had fewer calories intake and lower mean BMI as compared to those who ate less than four times daily.
There are also a few study reports that suggest that healthy snacking taken at the right proportion and at the right time can reduce the chances of serious health and medical conditions such as:
- Heart diseases
- Levels of sugar and cholesterol in the blood
- Immune system and GI disorders
- Brain function and much more.
However, different study reports have different data and such conflicting data may be the result of several different factors such as:
- The way in which the researchers define an eating occasion or snacking
- Whether or not caloric or non-caloric beveragesare included in the study and analyses of reports and even
- Underreporting by the respondents of food choice and time of eating.
Reverse causality is another important factor that is often found to be at play. This means the people having higher mean BMIs may prefer to eat less frequently than those who have lower mean BMI simply with a belief that eating less will help them to lose weight and enable them to stay on their weight loss program. However, the fact is that they are overweight simply because they eat less often, as per the research reports.
These factors can make the dietary assessment tools unenforceable. Even though populace studies reveal inconsistent results, conducting more randomized intervention trials allows the subjects to make their choice regarding what they generally eat. This ideally and most surprisingly shows no effect on body weight.
The recent studies
Recently, there were five shortterm studies conducted to compare high and low eating frequencies. The results were different as under:
- Out of these only one study report showed a minor advantage when the participants were allowed to take more meals and snacks
- Adults having high levels of cholesterol typically consumed the foods that they usually take but as three or nine meals in a day
- Over a period of four weeks it was found that the participants who ate more often lost body weight by an average of 0.9 pounds and
- On the other hand, those people who followed a pattern of eating less frequent meals showed a drop of only 0.2 pounds
In addition to that, when a two-month weightloss program was combined with regular food and meal replacements it showed that the amount of weight loss was the same irrespective of the fact that the participants ate three meals a day only or had three meals and a bedtime snack in a day.
There are also a few other surprising facts reveled through different other researches. Such studies say that those people snack more simply to boost themetabolic rates typically puts in a futile effort. Studies have revealed data which after examining showed that:
- There is a sure jump in the metabolic rate after eating for up to 48 hours and
- The thermic effect of the food eaten is not dependent on the meal frequency.
This means that instead of changing, the overall metabolic rate of the body remains the same when a definite amount of food is eaten by a person in a few or several occasions.
Studying from a different perspective
Therefore, the researchers now had to look at things from a different perspective since frequency of eating snacks does not seem to help in burning more calories. At the opposite side of the equation is the energy balance factor which now needs to be studied. Researchers asked them whether or not frequent eating caused the people to consume fewer calories. However, even then there was a conflict in the eventual results found as mentioned under:
- One study report and review analysis review found that there is a slight gain in the appetite control ability of a consumer when they eat six meals per day including snacks instead of three or less in a day.
- In this matter, the experts along with the Evidence Analysis Library of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics corroborated at a symposium that there is no scientific evidence available at this point of time that points towards an ideal eating occasion frequency when it comes to using eating frequency as a tool for weight control measureand energy balance.
You may ask now, does that mean you can snack as many times you feel and still not have any adverse effect on your health, BMI and body weight? Certainly not! As you may know anything in excess is not good especially when it comes to eating, choice of food and your health. It is paramount that when you order snacks onlineyou make sure that you care for the quality and type of food you order, the portion and the time you eat so that you can enjoy the actual benefits of healthy snacking.
Snacking and metabolic effects
Scientific research has proved that eating frequency has a significant effect on your health and especially has the potential to alter the metabolic rate and parameters in addition to body fat and weight.
It is found that in a meal replacement study for a specific period there are no significant differencesnoted in the level of cholesterol or triglyceride in the body between people who ate three or four times in a day comprising of their meals and snacks both.
It was seen in the same study that when healthy people consumesame diets for all three meals in a day or seventeen daily “nibbles” or smaller than a regular snacking amount for a period of fourteen days, the cholesterol measurements were found to be better in the people following the nibbling pattern.
However, the results of such a study will have a conflicting result once again due to the limitations if a very small sample size in considered. That means there is a need of more research on this matter to support the facts and findings with accurate results.