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'Grazing' vs. Standard Meals for Weight Loss

Daily calories, not how often you eat, are what matter, study finds

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In studies Alencar has done comparing different meal frequencies, she finds those who eat more meals tend to underreport what they actually eat.

Recently, she reviewed published studies on how meal frequency might affect weight loss. That report is published in the April issue of the journal Nutrition.

Researchers remain uncertain about the best meal frequency for weight loss, Alencar said. However, some research suggests fewer meals per day may help obese people control cholesterol better, she noted.

Alencar agreed with Piya, however, that for now people should stick with the approach they are used to. She suspects that those who switch their patterns -- going from three meals a day to five, or the reverse -- may ''throw off'' their hunger hormones, making them feel hungrier in some cases.

For now, Alencar said: "Stick with what you know and reduce calories."

Piya can't say if the findings apply to men. "There are no obvious reasons that we would expect men to respond differently, but obviously we are unable to draw conclusions about men until we [do] studies in men," he said.

Because the new study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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