We’ve always heard “it’s the most important meal of the day,” but now there is a scientific study to prove it! According to a recent study by the Endocrine Society, eating a big breakfast can help you burn more calories throughout the day. This study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, suggests that a high calorie breakfast is linked to healthier blood sugar and insulin levels, which plays a large role in our overall health.
During the study, a group of men altered between a low-calorie breakfast/high calorie dinner and high calorie breakfast/low calorie dinner. Diet induced thermogenics (energy), overall hunger, blood glucose levels and food cravings were tracked for the purpose of the study. On average, the diet induced thermogenics was 2.5 times higher after breakfast – meaning metabolism is more active during that time. The high calorie breakfast was linked to lower hunger pangs and sweet cravings throughout the day. The low-calorie breakfast was linked to more daily snacking and a larger dinner. Insulin and blood glucose levels were also lower after breakfast, compared to dinner time. The study article states, “our results confirm that a large dinner has particularly negative effects on glucose tolerance, which should be considered by diabetic patients looking to avoid blood glucose peaks.” Adding, “an extensive breakfast should therefore be preferred over large dinner meals to reduce the risk of metabolic diseases.”
According to Dr. Minisha Sood, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, our metabolism is influenced by the circadian rhythm and people are more insulin sensitive in the morning, so less insulin is needed to control glucose levels after eating. Also, the increased activity in the morning and daylight hours helps manage insulin and glucose levels. When we sleep, our metabolic rate decreases, making it more difficult for our bodies to digest food and burn for fuel. Eating a well-balanced breakfast of foods such as fruit, eggs, oatmeal and yogurt will help with cravings throughout the day. Try to avoid processed and sugary foods as these can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, increase cravings and possibly cause you to overeat for dinner.
Dr. John Magana, of Yale Medicine Bariatric & Minimally Invasive Surgery summarizes it like this:
“You should eat like a queen for breakfast, princess for lunch, and pauper for dinner.”
Overall, the study suggests that eating a big breakfast may help burn up to twice the number of calories and control hunger pangs and food cravings throughout the day. This could be helpful to those trying to lose weight. People with diabetes should prioritize breakfast over dinner to lower insulin and blood glucose levels.