Two large meals a day can benefit people with type 2 diabetes
It's long been thought diabetics can benefit most from eating several small meals throughout the day.
After all, it makes sense that frequent eating – as long as it's the right amount of macronutrients and calories – can help to stabilize blood sugar.
Yet a new study published in the journal Diabetologia found that two large meals was better for weight control and blood glucose levels than six smaller ones with the same total calories and nutrient balance in people with type 2 diabetes.
Body weight decreased, insulin sensitivity better
The study included 54 adult patients, about half men and half women, who were being treated with some type of diabetes drug. One group of participants followed a restricted-calorie diet that included six small meals throughout the day, while the other group followed a similar calorie-restricted diet that included two large meals at breakfast and lunch. Both groups followed their respective diets for 12 weeks and then switched to the other diets for 12 weeks.
Because both programs involved restricting about 500 calories from the diet daily, the researchers weren't surprised to see both groups lose weight. However, the group eating two small meals lost more weight, and also showed more balanced blood sugar levels than the six-meal-a-day participants. Additionally, oral glucose insulin sensitivity (OGIS) was better in the group that only ate twice a day. No adverse effects were seen in either group.
"Eating only breakfast and lunch reduced body weight, liver fat content, fasting plasma glucose, C-peptide and glucagon, and increased OGIS, more than the same caloric restriction split into six meals," the authors wrote in a press release.
Frequency and timing of meals important
The authors note they can't recommend that every diabetic will benefit more from two meals a day – not until further research has been conducted on the topic – but that dietary strategies should take into account the frequency and timing of meals, as well as the macronutrient balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
"Further larger scale, long-term studies are essential before offering recommendations in terms of meal frequency," they concluded.
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