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Three Meals Per Day With Large Breakfast May Help With Weight Loss, Insulin

The current diet recommendation for people with diabetes is that they eat six small meals per day. However, a recent study suggests that eating three meals per day, including a high calorie breakfast, may help with weight loss, improve diabetes symptoms, and decrease the need for insulin in people with diabetes.


Participants in the study included 11 women and 18 men with obesity and diabetes who were being treated with insulin and had an average age of 69. Over the course of three months, they were assigned to follow either a diet of three meals (large breakfast, medium-sized lunch, small dinner) or six small meals spaced evenly throughout the day, including three snacks. The two diets had an equal number of calories.


The researchers measured overall glucose levels and glucose spikes for the first 14 days and at the end of the study. Glucose levels were tested every two weeks and insulin was adjusted as needed.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted an 11 lb. weight loss in the three-meal group, compared with a three lb. weight loss in the six-meal group. They also noted a drop in overall mean glucose levels the first 14 days by 29 mg/dl (from 167 to 138 mg/dl) and 38 mg/dl (from 167 to 129 mg/dl) after three months in the three-meal group. In comparison, overall mean glucose levels dropped 9 mg/dl (from 171 to 162 mg/dl) in the first 14 days and 17 mg/dl (from 171 to 154 mg/dl) in the six-meal group.


The researchers also noted a 24 mg/dl drop in mean glucose levels during sleep in the three-meal group, with no change in the six-meal group, as well as a 20.5 units/day drop in insulin needed in the three-meal group and 2.2 units/day increase in insulin needed in the six-meal group. In addition, carbohydrate craving and hunger decreased significantly in the three-meal group but increased in the six-meal group.


Researchers from Tel Aviv University conducted the study. It was presented on Saturday, March 17, at ENDO 2018, the 100th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago.


Previous studies have found that eating breakfast may curb hunger throughout the rest of the day. Some studies have also found that it may contribute to weight loss, although the results regarding weight loss are still inconclusive.

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