food

Study suggests eating two meals a day to better manage type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on May 20, 2014

Eating two larger meals a day at breakfast and lunch may be more effective for managing type 2 diabetes than current nutrition advice, a new study suggests.

Scientists from the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague fed two groups of 27 people the same calorie diet spread over two or six meals a day. They found volunteers who ate two meals a day lost more weight than those who ate six, and their blood sugar dropped.

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Volunteers who ate two meals a day lost more weight than those who ate six meals

Experts said the study supports existing evidence that fewer, larger meals were the way forward in terms of managing type 2 diabetes.

Each of the diets has the same daily intake of 1,700 calories. The 54 participants (ages 30 through 70, all diagnosed as type 2 diabetics) were split into two groups.  The first group ate six small meals a day for 12 weeks, after which they moved onto a 12 week diet of two larger meals at breakfast and lunch, missing out on dinner. The second group had the same two diets but began with the two meal diet and then moved to the six small meals diet.

Participants lost weight on both diets, but the two meal diet was more effective, resulting in an average 3.7kg weight loss compared with a 2.3kg weight loss on the six meal diet. Fasting plasma glucose levels also experienced greater improvement as a result of the two meal diet.

However, it was a very small study and Dr. Richard Elliott of leading UK health charity Diabetes UK said that larger studies over longer periods of time will be needed to back up these findings before the organisation would change its advice.

Dr. Elliot added that eating a healthy, balanced diet, being active and maintaining a healthy weight, alongside taking any medication was vital to effectively manage the condition. Current advice in the UK recommends three meals a day, with healthy snacks.

‘The patients were really afraid they would get hungry in the evening, but feelings of hunger were lower as the patients ate until they were satisfied. But when they ate six times a day, the meals were not leaving them feeling satisfied. It was quite surprising,’ said lead scientist Dr Hana Kahleova.

She also said a larger study should be undertaken and that the results could also apply to people without diabetes who were trying to lose weight.

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