'Eating three meals daily is better way to diet'

Researchers from Purdue University in Indiana found that overweight men, who are on low-calorie and high-protein diets, felt more satisfied and less hungry when they ate three times instead of having small meals six times a day.

The findings contradict the general perception that it's better to eat little meals more often, the researchers said.

Dr Heather Leidy, lead researcher of the study, said that earlier studies on whether eating frequency affects appetite control have had 'conflicting' results.

"These mini-meals everyone is talking about don't seem to be as beneficial as far as appetite control," Dr Leidy was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

For their study, Dr Leidy and her colleagues randomly assigned 27 men who were overweight or obese to eat either a high-protein diet or a normal-protein diet for 12 weeks.

Diets contained 750 fewer calories than each man needed to maintain his current weight.
Starting at week seven of the study, the men either ate their assigned diet in three meals spaced five hours apart, or in six meals eaten every two hours, for three days in a row.

The study participants then switched to the other eating pattern for an additional three consecutive days.

The researchers found that those eating the higher protein diet (25 per cent of total calories from protein) felt fuller throughout the day.

They didn't want to eat as much late at night and were less preoccupied with thoughts of food than the men who were consuming 14 per cent of their energy as protein.

While eating frequency didn't influence appetite in the men on the normal-protein diet, the researchers did find that men in the high protein group felt fuller in the evening and late at night after eating just three meals a day.

It's already been established, Dr Leidy said, that high protein diets are better for appetite control, although she added the diet followed was not Atkins.

She said: "We very clearly want people to know that this is not an Atkins-style diet.
"You're still getting an adequate amount of fibre and fruits and vegetables with these diets."

The study is published in the journal Obesity.

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