It has been suggested that, although increasing meal frequency has metabolic advantages in terms of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, the efficiency of small intestinal absorption may be enhanced, thus reducing the extent of colonic fermentation. Since this may be undesirable, we have tested whether increasing meal frequency reduces the amount of carbohydrate fermented into the colon. Accordingly, seven healthy male volunteers took, in random order, two identical 2-week metabolic diets divided into either seventeen or three meals daily. On day 13 of each period measurements were made throughout the day of breath H2 and serum acetate, as markers of colonic fermentation. Mean levels of both breath H2 and acetate were similar on both diets, being lower on nibbling by 3.2 +/- 0.8 ppm and 25 +/- 9 mumols/l respectively (not significant). This study failed to demonstrate an effect of more efficient carbohydrate absorption with increased meal frequency.
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