For a long time, it was believed that fractional nutrition (meals five to six times a day in small portions) is good for health and even contributes to weight loss. This was explained by an increase in the energy consumption of the body on the digestion process.
But how really? Recent studies show that restricting meals to 2-3 times a day, while maintaining the same calorie intake, leads to normalization of intestinal microflora, improved circadian rhythms, helps fight inflammatory processes and has a number of other positive effects. So, eating food in small portions during the day is not more useful than eating fully two to three times a day (except when fractional nutrition is prescribed for medical reasons).
Often fractional nutrition is prescribed for diabetes. In a recent study * patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus were divided into two groups: the first group thoroughly ate twice a day, the second six times a day in small portions. Patients in the first group showed a more pronounced decrease in body weight, fatty liver infiltration, a decrease in fasting plasma glucose, and an improvement in insulin sensitivity compared to those who divided the same number of calories into six meals.
The mechanisms that explain these results are most likely associated with fluctuations in the level of saturation hormones (insulin and leptin) during fractional nutrition, which contribute to the formation of tissue resistance (immunity) to their action. This, in turn, leads to changes in the metabolic process, affects the human nutritional behavior. So, fractional nutrition over time can cause an increase in appetite, obesity, increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
What about weight loss with fractional nutrition?
And if the benefits of fractional nutrition up to five times a day are called into question by scientists , eating six or more times a day can harm your health. Those who eat too often have an increased risk of developing various diseases. Apparently, the key role for the body is not played by the fact of eating, but by the interval between meals. Fasting for 12-16 hours provides an increase in insulin sensitivity, a decrease in appetite, systemic inflammation, and blood cholesterol.
In addition, there is evidence that, when this “hungry” period is provided , there is an increase in the production of brain neurotropic factor, which is responsible for cognitive functions and neuron growth.
Who needs fractional nutrition? Fractional nutrition can be prescribed for medical reasons, as well as if the person’s energy consumption is increased during the day. For athletes, the norm is to eat every 3-4 hours. It is important that the diet is complete and balanced. A correctly selected fractional nutrition scheme will help to build muscle mass under the condition of regular strength training. For a snack in this case, it is convenient to use special bars containing protein, fiber, and whole grains. If your schedule does not have intensive training, it is better to refuse snacks.
Breakfast is the most important meal, you can not skip it. World Health Organization experts have warned that those who refuse to eat breakfast are at increased risk of developing diseases of the cardiovascular system due to increased blood viscosity, blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Whole grain products, fruits, and eggs are best for breakfast.
An ideal lunch should not exceed breakfast. Eating is recommended slowly, with pleasure and in good company. And remember the principles of healthy eating: more vegetables and fruits, fish, less salt, sugar and trans-fatty acids.