Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Diabetes: 2 Large Meals Better Than 6 Small?

By Nicky Broyd
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Farah Ahmed, MD

May 16, 2014 -- Eating two large meals may be better than eating six small ones with the same amount of calories to control weight and blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.

The results of the new study, conducted in the Czech Republic, have been published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Small Study

The study looked at 54 patients, 29 men and 25 women. All were taking oral medications for diabetes. The patients were between 30 and 70 years old and were divided into two groups of 27. They were asked to follow one of two restricted-calorie diets for 12 weeks. After completing one diet, they switched to the other, again for 12 weeks.

Each diet contained 500 calories fewer than the recommended daily amount. One included six small meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and three small snacks. The other included two large meals: breakfast eaten between 6 and 10 a.m., and lunch between noon and 4 p.m.

The diets had the same calories and nutrients.

Large-Meal Group Loses More

The researchers found that people lost weight in both diets, but there was more weight loss in the group that ate two large meals. People in that group lost 8.2 pounds on average, while the people who ate six small meals lost 5 pounds on average.

Blood sugar levels went down in both diets, more for people eating the two-meal diet.

No side effects were noted for either diet.


The authors acknowledge that their data contradicts a widely held opinion that eating more frequently is healthier.

Richard Elliott, research communications officer at Diabetes UK, says in a statement that more research is needed before people with diabetes change their eating habits.

“What we do know is that eating a healthy balanced diet, taking regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, together with taking any medication prescribed by your doctor, is vital for effective management of type 2 diabetes,” Elliott says.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner