Lead author Tim Heden, a doctoral student in the University of Missouri's Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, and colleagues studied how meal frequency affected blood-sugar and blood-fat levels in eight obese women throughout two 12-hour periods on two separate days.
All of the women consumed 1,500 calories. During the two different testing days, the participants consumed three 500-calorie liquid meals or six 250-calorie liquid meals.
Throughout the 12-hour time frames, researchers tested sugar and fat levels in the women's blood every 30 minutes.
The study, scheduled to be published in the journal Obesity, found women who consumed three meals had significantly lower fat in their blood.
"Our data suggests that, for obese women, eating fewer, bigger meals may be more advantageous metabolically compared to eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day," Heden said in a statement. "Eating larger meals less often lowered blood-fat levels. Over time, consistently eating fewer, larger meals each day could lower the women's blood-fat levels and thereby lower their risk of developing heart disease."