Researchers at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Ottawa, the Department of Nutrition of the Université de Montréal, and the Montreal Diabetes Research Center tracked the eating habits of 85 women in their late 40's and early 50's who had not yet entered menopause. They found that women who ate more often also consumed more calories, but had:
- Slimmer waists,
- Lower BMI (body mass index),
- Lower percentage body fat, and
- Lower mass of body fat.
At first blush, it would seem that eating smaller meals more often helps you lose weight. When the clinical study participants' physical fitness was measured by equipment that computes peak oxygen expenditure (roughly, how much huffing and puffing the women needed to accomplish physical work), however, the most fit and active women were the ones with the slimmest weight and lowest body fat. Physical fitness explained all the differences in weight and body fat. And, it's important to emphasize, women who ate more often consumed more calories.
Nibbling really won't help you lose weight, but snacking won't hurt you if you're physically active. Just remember that you have to be active to avoid weight gain.
Karine Duval, Irene Strychar, Marie-Josée Cyr, Denis Prud'homme, Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret and Éric Doucet Physical activity is a confounding factor of the relation between eating frequency and body composition American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 88, No. 5, 1200-1205, November 2008.