Health Watch -- Mealtime

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Could eating more meals help you lose weight?

We've previously talked about the importance of portion size for helping lose or maintain weight. When - or how often - you eat can also make a big difference, according to nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

The modern lifestyle, which tends to be light on physical activity, doesn't necessarily require the three square meals a day that were customary in our grandparents' time, but eating at least three meals a day of appropriate size is still a good idea. Dr. Scott Grundy, director of UT Southwestern's Center for Human Nutrition, says there's evidence that small, frequent meals throughout the day may be better for you than one or two large meals. In animal studies, animals fed large meals synthesized more fat than those that nibbled throughout the day, even though they were given the same amount of calories.

The most important meal is breakfast. People who eat breakfast have better strength and endurance, better attitudes toward school or work, better blood-sugar levels and less hunger later in the day that may lead to overeating. Breakfast eaters are also more likely to get the right amount of vitamins, as well as less fat and more fiber than those who skip breakfast.

If you're skipping breakfast to control your weight, you may be doing yourself a disservice. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast, and you're likely to eat less throughout the day.