A 2014 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a big breakfast and lunch, accompanied either by no dinner or a very light dinner, can be more beneficial than six smaller meals spread over the day. According to a Reuters report on the study, the two-big-meal diet scored better for control of weight, hepatic fat content, and blood glucose concentration, and for moderating insulin resistance.
The authors, who are well-credentialed researchers at the Diabetes Centre Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Charles University in Prague, posit that the body’s natural hunger mechanism, which controls intervals for eating and digestion, ought to deserve more credit than perhaps it’s been given. The theory is that eating two big meals instead of many small ones helps curtail the cycle of hunger and desire that can arise with constant snacking.
I discussed these findings with Dr. Susan Lynch, a board-certified authority on pediatric lipid disorders at Dartmouth- Hitchcock Medical Center. Her take on this is pretty straightforward: A busy family needs to sit down once a day, at least, for a properly prepared meal that incorporates a variety of foods in the National Institutes of Health Triangle. Slowing down and eating a balanced meal in a conscious manner can help one feel fuller and more satisfied.
In 2009, the same European Journal also published “Metabolic and Physiologic Improvements From Consuming a Paleolithic, Hunter-Gatherer Type Diet”, a small study led by faculty of the medical school at U.C. San Francisco. This paper vetted the idea that a diet of wild animal source foods (except dairy) and non-cultivated plant source foods including fruits, leafy and root vegetables, tree nuts, and non-grains (excluding legumes), is what our bodies are designed to ingest. This diet, followed up to the times of the agricultural and animal husbandry revolutions, is believed to more closely optimize core metabolism and physiology. The authors conclude the diet offered a host of short-term improvements to the health of the subjects studied:
Even short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improves BP and glucose tolerance, decreases insulin secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and improves lipid profiles without weight loss in healthy sedentary humans.
As with most things when it comes to nutrition, more study is needed on these matters. Both studies point to one possible idea, however – that tinkering with the natural controls and instincts governing human nutritional intake may not have been a very bright idea.
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