Can you really lose weight with multiple mini-meals?

Can you really lose weight with multiple mini-meals?

It seems there’s no shortage of weight loss tips and tricks. Some people resort to juice cleanses, workout crazes and even ice cream diets.

One popular strategy is the idea of eating multiple mini-meals throughout the day instead of the traditional three squares. Now, a new study is challenging that tactic.

The research shows that either way of consuming calories can lead to weight loss as long as overall daily calories are restricted.

Many people believe that “grazing” throughout the day somehow helps to “speed up” their metabolism, researchers said. Dr. Milan Kumar Piya, head researcher of the study and clinical lecturer, said in a statement, that this is not the case.

The study, done at the UK National Institute for Health Research, had female test subjects eat five small meals one day and two bigger meals another day. The two days’ meals totaled the same amount of calories. The results showed that the subjects burned the same amount of calories on both days.

When it comes to actually losing weight, researchers said that the number of times a day we eat doesn’t affect weight loss. They concluded that it truly comes down to the number of calories we have a day that directly can affect when we lose pounds.

“If you eat two meals or five, as long as it’s the same number of calories; there is no difference in energy expenditures, so there is no effect on weight loss,” Dr. Piya said.

Piya explains that caloric restriction is the only way to assure steady and safe weight loss. Restricting the number of calories we eat per day adds up by the end of the week.

Because this study was focused on women, Piya adds that the results may not be the same for males and that further research is needed.

“Generally, if we deficit 3,500 calories in a week, we can lose one pound,” says Michelle Remkus, registered dietitian at Advocate Good Samaritan Health & Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill. “Other studies have shown this method could work for some as people have different individual metabolic rates, metabolic adaptation and unseen difference in activity. And these all have an effect on how much weight someone will lose.”

Related Posts



  1. What types of food were the people eating in the study???

    I’m sure the functional medicine types would have different conclusions than the mainstream…

  2. Lynn Hutley

    If I wait until I’m very hungry, then I am going to consume more calories than if I am only somewhat hungry so grazing is still the way to go.

    • Agreed Smaller meals are best along with “moving’ your body 5 + times a week.
      NO sitting for long periods get up and stretch & walk around Touch your toes, twist your body. Hardest part for me is avoiding Sweets .

  3. I have heard of this diet but the concept was not about total calories consumed each day. The theory was eating smaller meals conditions your body to trust there is more food coming soon. Your body would then expel unneeded calories instead of storing. Longer periods between meals tells your body to store calories because the duration to the next meal is uncertain. The study referenced here did not test this theory. It would probably take several weeks of eating small meals to determine the value of this diet.

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.