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Making breakfast biggest meal of the day doesn’t help lose weight

Dieters have said people must “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper” if they want to shed the pounds.

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By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

Making breakfast the biggest meal of the day doesn't help slimmers lose weight after all, according to a new study.

Scientists found eating a massive morning meal doesn’t affect the way our bodies process calories.

It had long been believed a big brekkie leads us to burn more calories in the day but the findings throw this into doubt.

Dieters have said people must “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper” if they want to shed the pounds.

In fact, it does not matter whether we make breakfast, lunch or dinner our biggest meal of the day because our body processes the calories in the same way.

The team from the University of Aberdeen found people who made breakfast their biggest meal of the day and those who chomped most of their calories in the evening both lost just over seven pounds in a month.


However, the study was small and eating more food first thing in the morning could help people lose weight “in the real world” by making them less ravenous at lunch and dinnertime.

Participants said they were less hungry on days when they ate a big breakfast, the authors found.

"There are a lot of myths surrounding the timing of eating and how it might influence either body weight or health," said the study’s senior author Professor Alexandra Johnstone from the university’s Rowett Institute.

“We in the nutrition field have wondered how this could be possible. Where would the energy go?

“We decided to take a closer look at how time of day interacts with metabolism.”

For the study, the team recruited 30 people who were overweight or obese but otherwise healthy.

They recruited 16 male and 14 female participants.

Each of them was told to make breakfast or dinner their biggest meal of the day for four weeks.

The diets contained 30 percent protein, 35 pe cent carbohydrate and 35 percent fat.

After a week in which calories were balanced throughout the day, they then swapped to the opposite diet for four weeks.

The participants’ total daily energy expenditures were measured using the doubly labelled water method that looks at the difference between the turnover rates of the hydrogen and oxygen in body water as a function of carbon dioxide production.

The researchers wanted to find out energy balance measured by body weight.

The team also looked at appetite control, glycaemic control, and body composition.

“The participants reported that their appetites were better controlled on the days they ate a bigger breakfast and that they felt satiated throughout the rest of the day," Johnstone said.

“This could be quite useful in the real-world environment, versus in the research setting that we were working in.”

The team say the same type of experiment could be applied to the study of intermittent fasting.

They also want to carry out a similar study on people who do shift work to better understand whether their metabolisms respond differently because they have different body clocks.

“One thing that’s important to note is that when it comes to timing and dieting, there is not likely going to be one diet that fits all," Johnstone said.

“Figuring this out is going to be the future of diet studies, but it’s something that’s very difficult to measure.”

The findings were published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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