There have been reports of an inverse relationship between meal frequency (MF) and adiposity. It has been postulated that this may be explained by favorable effects of increased MF on appetite control and possibly on gut peptides as well.
The main goal of the present study was to investigate whether using a high MF could lead to a greater weight loss than that obtained with a low MF under conditions of similar energy restriction. Subjects were randomized into two treatment arms (high MF = 3 meals+3 snacks/d or low MF = 3 meals/d) and subjected to the same dietary energy restriction of – 2931 kJ/d for 8 weeks. Sixteen obese adults (n 8 women and 8 men; age 34.6 (sd 9.5); BMI 37.1 (sd 4.5) kg/m2) completed the study. Overall, there was a 4.7 % decrease in body weight (P < 0.01); similarly, significant decreases were noted in fat mass ( – 3.1 (sd 2.9) kg; P < 0.01), lean body mass ( – 2.0 (sd 3.1) kg; P < 0.05) and BMI ( – 1.7 (sd 0.8) kg/m2; P < 0.01).
However, there were NS differences between the low- and high-MF groups for adiposity indices, appetite measurements or gut peptides (peptide YY and ghrelin) either before or after the intervention.
We conclude that increasing MF does not promote greater body weight loss under the conditions described in the present study.