We already know that what and how much we eat matters and an eye-opening new study adds to a mounting body of new science showing that when we eat may be just as important. For this study, researchers placed 93 obese women on one of two diet plans. Both groups consumed the same foods and the same total daily calories, but with different calories for their breakfast and dinner meals. The first group ate 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch, and 200 at dinner. The second group ate 200 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch, and 700 at dinner. By the end of the 12-week study, the big breakfast group had lost more than double the weight, 17.8 vs. 7.3, pounds relative to the big dinner group and more than twice the inches, 3 vs. 1.4, from their waistlines. The big breakfast group enjoyed several other additional benefits including lower levels throughout the day of the hunger hormone ghrelin and steeper decreases in their insulin, glucose, and triglyceride levels. Even more notable, the big breakfast group was spared the post-meal spikes in blood glucose that we know can damage blood vessels and raise blood pressure.
These differences are dramatic and support that eating more earlier in the day and less later in the day is a winning strategy for weight control and cardiometabolic health. I am currently working on tweaking my own eating patterns to fit this healthier paradigm.
(Obesity, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/oby.20460)