As part of weight management counseling, we often advise patients to eat ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper’.

A new study, by Jakubowicz and colleagues, tested this approach in a clinical trial.  They randomly assigned a group of overweight women to have more of their daily food intake at breakfast (700 calories at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch, and 200 calories at supper), or to have more of their daily food intake at supper (200 calories at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch, and 700 calories at supper) for three months.

Not only did the women eating more at breakfast lose more weight than the women eating more at supper, but the breakfast group also had a greater improvement in blood sugars, insulin resistance, and a type of cholesterol called triglycerides.  In addition, the breakfast group reported less hunger and more fullness after a meal, and their ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels were lower than the supper group.

So why does eating more food at breakfast work?  Previous studies have shown that eating breakfast may help to regulate brain activity to control eating behaviours later in the day, especially if the breakfast is high in protein. Contrast this with a day we have probably all experienced at some point, where you skipped breakfast, ate very little for lunch, and upon coming home at the end of the day, you were just so hungry that you had to eat and eat NOW – does that feeling sound familiar?   In that setting of intense hunger, we often overeat, as food is often eaten quickly – remember that it takes 10-15 minutes for the fullness hormones to start to kick in.  So, people who don’t eat enough during the day will often eat their entire day’s calories (and then some) at the end of the day.

So, prepare your shopping list to include healthy, bodacious, proteinaceous breakfast foods, like Egg Beaters, skim milk, no-salt-added cottage cheese, and lean cuts of deli meat – and enjoy!

Thanks to Obesity and Energetic Offerings for the heads’ up on this study!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013

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