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Is eating five times a day the key to losing weight fast?

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 3/19/2017 Liz Connor

© Provided by Evening Standard Limited What if there was a diet that encouraged you to eat more meals per day, rather than less?

That’s the promise of the latest ‘it’ diet that calls on its followers to eat five times per day, claiming that it can help you to lose up to five pounds in just a week.

The 5:5:5 diet, designed by UK nutritionist Angela Dowden , touts itself as the ‘easiest and healthiest’ way for dieters to achieve a trimmer figure through limiting your portions in a sustainable and enjoyable way.

Rather than fasting, Dowden encourages followers to eat little and often, with a focus on delicious and healthy meals that pack in your daily five fruit and veg portions.

According to Women's Day, its golden rule is that the food you eat is made up of five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables each day, especially greens that are high in fibre and low in carbohydrates.

'The science behind our 5:5:5 is very simple – it's about eating more (at least 5 portions daily) of healthy fruit and veg - particularly high fibre, low cal greens – that fill you up and help keep you trim,' Dowden told GoodToKnow.

'It's also about having regularly spaced meals and snacks every day to keep hunger at bay. These healthy eating principles help lower risk of heart disease and cancer and boost energy levels too!'

A typical day on the 5:5:5 diet could include blueberries and a sliced kiwifruit with fat-free yoghurt for breakfast, poached salmon fillet with salad and tzatziki for lunch, and a lean lamb chop with vegetables served with cous cous for dinner.

Dowden suggests you fill the gaps between meals with nutritious snacks, such as a banana or some mixed nuts and raisins - although you shouldn’t snack close to mealtimes, you need to maintain modest portion sizes and you’re also encouraged to cut out sugary drinks.

Jennifer Aniston is rumoured to be a fan. The actress’s nutritionist Kathy Kaehler recently revealed that Aniston aims to eat five small but nutritious meals per day, packing in protein-rich ingredients such as chia, fish and eggs.

Rumoured fan: Jennifer Aniston (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard Limited Rumoured fan: Jennifer Aniston (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The diet has been dubbed a gentler sister method to the popular 5:2 diet, which suggests you eat normally for five days per week and consume a quarter of your normal calorie intake on your two ‘fast days’.

A British study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who do not stick to a regimented meal plan tend to consume more calories and burn them less quickly than those who have six regular small meals a day.

However, the NHS advises that there is not enough conclusive evidence to suggest that eating several small meals is better for weight loss than eating two large meals per day.

One thing everyone can agree on however, is that we should be better monitoring the ‘hidden’ saturated fat and sugar content in our food by checking the labels before purchasing.

The 5:5:5 diet suggests that anything containing over 22g of sugar or 5g saturated fat per 100g should be avoided, rather than counting calories. The NHS similarly advises eating no more than 30g of added sugar or saturated fats per day.

'In recent years, the popular media has turned the debate about the causes of major public health issues such as heart disease , diabetes and obesity into something of a "fat versus sugar" dogfight', the NHS says on its website.

'But the question should not be about choosing between fat or sugar : there are good reasons for cutting down on both.'

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