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Eat More Calories for Breakfast and Less Throughout the Day to Lose Weight and Lower Risk of Disease

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Aug 05, 2013 02:25 PM EDT
obese woman
New research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reveals that a person's risk of developing severe obesity later in life is linked to whether they are obese at age 25. (Photo : Tony Alter/Flickr)

People who eat their largest, most calorie-rich meal at breakfast are more likely to lose weight and have a lower risk of developing diseases linked with body weight such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, according to a study by Tel Aviv University. 

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Researcher Daniela Jakubowicz and her colleagues studied 93 obese women who were randomly assigned to one of two regimented eating plans. All of the women consumed 1,400 calories a day in a moderate-carbohydrate and moderate-fat diet for 12 weeks. One group consumed 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 200 at dinner, while the other group inverted the order, consuming only 200 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 700 at dinner.

The 700-calorie breakfast and dinner included the same foods, including items such as chocolate cake and cookies.

Both test groups showed weight loss after 12 weeks of a restricted calorie diet, but by the end of the study period, women who consumed the big breakfast diet lost an average of 17.8 pounds and three inches off their waistline. The big dinner group lost an average of 7.3 pounds and 1.4 inches off the waistline.

Jakubowicz said that those in the big breakfast group were observed with significantly lower levels of the hunger-regulating hormone ghrelin, which she said was an indication that the women were more satiated and had less desire for snacking later in the day than their counterparts in the big dinner group.

Women in the big breakfast group showed significantly lower levels of insulin, glucose and triglycerides throughout the day, which translates into lower risk of developing an obesity-linked disease. Moreover, the big breakfast eaters did not experience the high spikes in blood sugar levels that typically occur after a meal. Peaks in blood glucose levels are considered even more harmful than sustained but high levels of blood sugar, leading to high blood pressure and strain on the heart.

Jakubowicz reports that in addition to regular exercise and proper nutrition, the find suggests that people should adopt a well-thought-out meal schedule in order to optimize weight loss and general health. Eating the right food at the wrong time can slow or inhibit weight loss she said, noting that women in the big dinner group had increased levels of triglycerides -- a type of fat in the body -- despite reporting overall weight loss.

Jakubowicz and her colleagues' research is published in the journal Obesity.

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