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Should You Eat Many Small Meals Each Day?

The notion behind eating smaller, more frequent meals is simple -- the notion is that spreading out your daily calories over six meals stimulates your metabolism, keeping it going at a faster pace and thereby burning more calories.

Some studies have found modest health benefits to eating smaller meals, but often the research involved extremes, like comparing the effects of two or three large daily meals with those of a dozen or more snacks. Six meals, according to some weight-loss books, is a more realistic approach.

But don’t count on it. One study carefully looked at groups of overweight men and women who were randomly assigned to very strict low-calorie diets and followed for eight weeks. Each subject consumed the same number of calories per day, but one group took in three meals a day and the other six. There was no difference between them in fat loss, appetite control or measurements of hormones that signal hunger and satiety. Other studies have had similar results.

For a more reliable metabolic boost, studies show, exercise might be a better option.

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