Eating more than three meals per day, or snacking regularly, increases BMI. According to Dr Hana Kahleova, one of the authors of the study, the body is more likely to gain weight from eating 2,000 calories spread throughout the day, than in one sitting.
Those in search of a new weight loss plan are in luck. A major new study has revealed that eating a big breakfast, medium lunch and small dinner is the key to lowering your BMI.
In one of the largest analyses of its kind, data from over 50,000 adults was collected by researches at California's Loma Linda University School of Public Health and in the Czech Republic.
The nutritionists analysed the adults' eating habits and weight over a seven-year period. It found four factors that helped decrease BMI:
- Eating one or two meals per day
- Fasting for 18 hours
- Eating breakfast
- Making breakfast or lunch the largest meal of the day
The authors, whose research was released in the Journal of Nutrition, said: "Our results suggest that in relatively healthy adults, eating less frequently, no snacking, consuming breakfast, and eating the largest meal in the morning may be effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain."
Eating a large breakfast has long been thought to help prevent weight gain. Professor Daniela Jakubowicz, author of The Big Breakfast Diet, found that those who piled on the calories in the morning were more likely to feel satisfied, preventing snacking throughout the day. And another study by Professor Jakubowicz found that eating chocolate in the morning, when our metabolism is at its best, was a surefire way to prevent cravings for sweet things later on.
Contrary to the common advice that a light meal should be eaten before 8pm, the new study found that skipping dinner altogether, and fasting for up to 18 hours overnight, was one of the biggest factors in losing weight.
The study suggests that Jennifer Aniston's famous method of keeping her weight down, which consists of eating five small meals per day, might not work for everyone.