Skipping breakfast and eating a big dinner may be a prescription for obesity. That’s the key conclusion of new research out of Israel that shows people who have the biggest meal of the day at breakfast, and then a light dinner, lose more weight than those who eat less in the morning and more at night.
In a study published in the journal Obesity, researchers at Tel Aviv University tracked nearly 100 overweight and obese women who went on a low-calorie diet (1,400 per day) for a three-month period.
About half the women had their biggest meal at breakfast (consuming 50 percent of their daily calories) and a light dinner (14 percent), with the balance (36 percent) consumed at lunch time. The other half had a light breakfast (14 percent of daily calories) and a heavy dinner (50 percent) each day.
After 12 weeks, the researchers found the big-breakfast eaters lost more than twice as much weight (an average of more than 19 pounds) than the big-dinner group (which dropped nearly 8 pounds on average). The big-breakfast group also lost more than 3 inches from their waistlines (compared with 1.5 inches for the others), their average triglyceride levels decreased by 34 percent (compared to 15 percent in the big-dinner group), and they experienced bigger drops in blood sugar levels.
The findings suggest eating a relatively high-calorie breakfast may help maintain stable insulin levels and also prevent overeating through the day and into the evening.
"Few studies examined the association between time-of-day of nutrient intake and the metabolic syndrome," the researchers said. "Our goal was to compare a weight loss diet with high caloric intake during breakfast to [a] diet with high caloric intake at dinner.
They concluded: "High-calorie breakfast with reduced intake at dinner is beneficial and might be a useful alternative for the management of obesity and metabolic syndrome."
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