How Breakfast Can Double Your Weight Loss
Imagine two friends, Sandra and Rebecca, are both trying to lose some weight. They decide that they will use a strict diet to accomplish their goals and commit to counting calories religiously. Having read that eating too few calories is not good for weight-loss they determine that 1,400 calories would be a good daily target.
They agree that they aren’t going to change anything else that could impact their weight loss results – The 1,400 calorie per day diet will be their only course of action for 12 straight weeks. However, they don’t discuss how those 1,400 calories will be used each day.
Sandra sets out by eating a small breakfast of about 200 calories, a satisfying lunch of 500 calories, and a nice dinner consisting of about 700 calories. Meanwhile, Rebecca eats a large breakfast totaling 700 calories, a lunch similar to Sandra (500 calories), and a small dinner of just 200 calories.
After 12 weeks who lost more weight?
Okay, most of us are likely recalling that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and concluded that Rebecca lost more weight as a results. And you’re right – she did! But that’s not the interesting part…
Did she lose a little bit more? Or was her big-breakfast plan the key to a significantly better weight-loss result?
Why Big Breakfasts Are Key To Weight Loss
This little story is based on some research published in the journal appropriately titled Obesity. Ninety-three women were separated into two groups: small breakfast eaters (SBE) and big breakfast eaters (BBE). After 12 weeks of dieting both groups lost a fair bit of weight but the BBE group lost much more. In fact, the average BBE lost almost 18lbs and 3 inches off their waistline! (Compare this with the more modest results of the SBE who lost about 7lbs and 1.5 inches)
That is a dramatic difference, especially considering that eating a bigger breakfast takes little effort, costs nothing more, and can be done by anyone!
The Science Behind The Results
The researchers found a few important variables that were impacted by the size of the breakfast meal. First, the BBE participants had much more consistent blood sugar throughout the rest of their day. The bigger morning meal acted as fuel for a long period of time and helped reduce “energy crashes” that could lead to snacking and unhealthy food choices.
Second, and perhaps even more importantly, the BBE group showed lower levels of insulin, glucose, and triglycerides when compared to the SBE group. These three markers are key indicators for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, therefore a lower count is an extremely beneficial result. Eating a larger breakfast can help people lose weight and protect them from heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Finally, the BBE consumed the vast majority of their calories early in the day. This is important because the BBE ate at a time corresponding to their biggest calorie requirements. They ate when their bodies were about to use calories. Contrast this with the SBE who ate a larger meal in the evening, a time when fewer calories are needed as the body prepares for rest.
Being a Big-Breakfast Eater
So what does this research tell us? Should we all eat half of our daily calories in the morning. Simply put – yes.
The researches concluded that eating healthy foods at the wrong times can slow down weight loss and actually cause some health problems. The SBE group, despite losing weight, actually showed higher levels of triglycerides in their blood versus when they started their diet (remember that triglycerides are an indicator of heart disease and diabetes!)
Instead, it’s important to roughly plan your meals and stick to that plan. Eating “when we feel like it” will often lead us to consume calories late in the day when we watch TV, read a book, or sit in front of the computer. Having a structure in place that calls for the bulk of our eating to be done in the morning is a great way to shed some weight without having to put in too much effort.