Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Meal Frequency Study

This just in:

Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet.

Well, nothing new here really, but it bears repeating: a high meal frequency does not speed up metabolism or fat loss. Another nail in the coffin for that tired old myth.

Since this is a fresh study, there's always that tiny glimmer of hope that it might get picked up by mainstream media. Just the other day I had the great misfortune to come across "expert" fat loss advice in one of the news mags. Yup, there it was again, the importance of stoking the metabolic furnace with meals every second to third hour. How predictable.

Anyway, here's some highlights from the fulltext version of that study;

"...The premise underlying the present study was that increasing meal frequency would lead to better short-term appetite regulation and increased dietary compliance; furthermore, it was hypothesised that these predicted beneficial effects of increased meal frequency could have resulted from more favourable gut peptide profiles, potentially leading to greater weight loss. Under the conditions described in the present study, all three hypotheses were rejected."

"...We had postulated that increasing meal frequency would enhance the compliance to the energy restricted diet thus leading to greater weight loss, an effect possibly mediated by increased fullness. The present results do not support this hypothesis."

"...According to the present results, increasing meal frequency did not change the daily profiles of peptide YY or ghrelin, nor did it favourably impact appetite parameters."


Raidho said...

Hi again Martin, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you say in some older post or comment-reply, that you were going to write about some supplements for fat-loss that you would actually recommend? Or is this jsut wishfull dreaming from my part? Anyway, it would be awesome to hear if there's anything out there in the jungle worth investing in!
Cheers// Johannes

Martin Berkhan said...

You're right. It's coming soon. Btw, just replied to your question in that Q&A-post.

Linda said...

I recently heard an RD spout the high meal frequency bs about how eating six times a day was the best approach for fat loss etc *sigh*. No wonder people are confused about diet and fat loss when RDs keep giving bad and outdated advice. And they're the ones that should know better! Anyway keep up the good work - love the blog. said...

Hi Martin,
Digging the blog! I have been playing around with IF and practicing paleo lifestyle for e few years now. As a certified PT, I know diet is key, and have been making headway on getting thru to clients that they don't need to eat several times/day.
IF and fasting workouts are coming out of the woodwork, so thank you and to others who are sharing their results/science.
It really just makes sense that millions of years ago, we would go for periods of time without food. When we make a kill, we would consume it, and preserve some if any was left. We are well adapted to being in a fasted state...just hope people don't go binging on oreo's as a reward lol ;))
Be Well,

UofMWolverine81 said...

The challenge I have found is not so much convincing people that meal frequency doesn't play the role they've been lead to believe it does. My training clients (at least the ones who came to me and had previously been using a high(er) meal frequency based upon what they'd heard) seem to have a more difficult time when trying to adjust to spreading their typical intake over fewer meals after having become used to eating more often.

It's odd in a way, because it would seem to make things much simpler for them, and yet they often express how foreign it feels when trying to readjust.

If only there were more folks out there with your level of practical knowledge and the ability to apply it, Martin! But hopefully with people like you out there, the quality information will begin to spread more and more.

Martin Berkhan said...

If you have clients you need to show them concrete examples of how it's done. Make a few sample meal plans based on foods they'd normally eat. That helps a great deal.

Jon Fernandes said...

Thanks for this martin, a lot of people that i work with still believe smaller, more meals speed up metabolism.

Time print this article out =]

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin. Huge fan of IF'ing. I've been on some kind of protocol for two years and it's been working like a charm. But i've come across a problem and don't really know if it's something you've already covered in a previous post. Anyhow, a couple of months ago i started working nights and I've noticed that staying on a IF-protocol when working looong nights (03:00 to 14:00) makes it som much harder to keep the 16h/8h window. It's like my apetite regulation (ghrelin related stuff perhaps?) doesn't know what the hell is happening.

Is this something that some of your clients have experienced as well? I had no problem what so ever with apetite when i didn't work nights.


Paula said...

I just love your posts like this one. I put up a video yesterday on my YouTube channel showing my transformation from a size 14 to a 6. Check it out by going to youtube(dot)com/hislivingsacrifice

Martin Berkhan said...


are you working shifts, or do you have irregular sleeping habits? That would explain a large part of it. Working nights is also associated with various hormonal weirdness, such as impaired glucose tolerance, which likely has something to do with it. This is all connected to our internal clock, growth hormone, leptin and melatonin.


that's quite a transformation. Very impressive indeed. Well done.

Raidho said...

Hi Martin, thanks for the advice on bodyweight+LISS workout, long walks with "bursts" of slow jogging and some squats, pushups and lunges sure makes me wanna get out of bed these days, I'm loving it!
Another question on a totally different topic: Fat slows down digestion and uptake of nutrients, right? Does that apply to MCT-fats aswell? Or is it differently digested due to different "metabolic pathways"?
Will using coconut-oil in a post-workout meal slow down the uptake of carbs and protein? I like working out fasted with just some BCAA's before and during the workout, I really get a "primal edge" doing this. After the workout I take 30 g of whey, and on my way home munch on carrots and fruits. Now for the "real" post-workout meal, which will be my first in the day, is it a bad idea to put in a little pat of coconut-oil in my couscous? Since I've been working out in a fasted state mean.
Merry Christmas!

Martin Berkhan said...

'is it a bad idea to put in a little pat of coconut-oil in my couscous?'

You think too much. Don't worry about this shit.

phrankypoo said...

Wow Im joining this party late.
My question is this...I can understand how eating more meals but smaller ones doesnt improve hunger and thereby improve fat loss. But what about the argument that small meals create a smaller insulin response which keeps you from storing more fat. I had thought that insulin is a result of sugar and the additive affect of wouldnt bigger meals of like 1000 calories create a bigger spike in insulin creating more fat?

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

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