Three square meals a day: For years we've been told they are essential to health. But popular dieting advice suggests that eating more meals -- albeit smaller ones -- may be a better approach, especially for those looking to shed extra pounds.
Some new diets advocate going the other way: consuming only one small meal a couple of days a week, followed by days of unrestricted eating.
These diets claim to help people manage the tricky business of taking in fewer calories. What does science say about their effectiveness?
Let's start with the idea that lots of little meals is better than three squares. While numerous studies have indicated a link between a snacking diet (four to six small meals or adding healthful snacks to the three squares) and maintaining a healthy weight, the research remains inconclusive.