Meals every three hours really necessary?


      Proper nutrition is the great challenge of the population that craves maintenance, reduction or increase in body weight, and we know that weight management is through the energy balance (HALL et al., 2012).

      This management is as follows: When we eat more calories than we spend throughout the day, this energy is stored mainly in the form of triglycerides in adipose tissue, leading to increased body weight, especially the percentage of fat. When the opposite occurs, use less than we spend, the existing energy reserves in the body is used as an energy source causing reduction of body weight. When there is a balance between consumption and cost, weight tends to be maintained (SCHOENFELD et al., 2014).

    Factor that has been cited frequently by researchers and practitioners is the fractionation meals (small meals divided into several portions throughout the day), in which they reported that this method leads to better maintenance of weight and body fat reduction. Study reported that the possible reason to get such results would be the acquisition of appetite control and the improvement of glucose homeostasis (RUIDAVETS et al., 2002).

      There is evidence that the macronutrient intake often during optimizes anabolism. Studies show that consumption of proteins in larger servings daily (every 3 hours) increase their synthesis (MOORE et al, 2012;. ARETA et al, 2013.).

      Schoenfeld et al. (2014) produced a very interesting review article where highlight several results. As the difference in body mass related to amount of daily meals in comparative between 1-2 meals, 3-4 meals and 5 or more, no significant differences were found, suggesting that this variable daily food frequency has no influence.

     Regarding the changes in body fat, the authors analyzed 10 studies that assessed this variable and noted that the number of daily meals directly influence the changes of body fat. They found that five or more meals a day had significantly higher fat reduction than 1-2 meals. What can support these findings is the fact occur post prandial thermogenesis, that is, up to 8 hours after a meal there is increased heat production, thus leading to increased caloric burn (TAI et al., 1991).

     When a variable is fat-free mass, analyzed nine studies that evaluated the MLG, and also found a relationship between the MLG and the number of meals in the day, where most food frequency showed a greater tendency to have higher free mass levels of fat. Atherton et al. (2010), point out that the postprandial protein synthesis takes up to 3 hours, thus, the highest frequency of meals will allow the synthesis remains high, causing greater anabolism. The same authors recommend portions 20 to 40g protein according to the age of the individual.

      The percentage of fat created some controversy. In a general analysis, was found between feeding frequency and a lower percentage of fat, however, not all studies have found such an effect.

      In addition to body composition, literature reveals that 5 or more fractional meals promote great benefits with regard to health, namely: Maintenance of blood glucose levels, increased insulin sensitivity and control the levels of lipids.

Frequent meals in smaller quantities proved to be more interesting than fewer meals with high amounts. More studies must be developed to fill gaps soon.