Make your heartiest meal of the day breakfast, and make your skimpiest meal of the day dinner. New evidence suggests that watching the clock and not just the calories may help significantly in controlling weight. Researchers in a new study recommend starting with a big breakfast, eating a smaller lunch and ending the day with little or no supper. Reversing the conventional order of small breakfast and large dinner may lower Body Mass Index and may also reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They also found that fasting could play a role in weight control. About 8 percent of people in the study finished lunch by early afternoon and did not eat again until the next morning when they ate breakfast. Those who did not eat for the 18 or 19 hours after lunch had the lowest BMIs in the study. Researchers conclude that those eating breakfast tended to hold weight down compared with skipping breakfast.
Researchers at Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California reviewed the eating habits of 50,000 adult Seventh Day Adventists over seven years and found that calorie-loading early in the day kicks our metabolism into gear and may help prevent obesity. Digesting food, processing sugars in carbohydrates and storing glucose all appear to be most active early in the day. That’s peak time for the body to use nutrients as energy.
Hardwired for Feasting and Fasting
Our bodies seem to be hardwired for regular switching between feasting and fasting, with fasting telling the body to start burning up fat for fuel, the researchers said. Those in the study who added snacks to their three meals a day tended to gain weight over time. Those who ate only one or two meals a day tended to lose weight, even compared with those who ate three meals and no snacks.
This year the American Heart Association linked skipping breakfast to a higher risk of obesity and impaired glucose metabolism or diabetes. The Association, which noted that there is no proof of cause and effect, said between 20 percent to 30 percent of American adults regularly go without breakfast.
The bottom line is that we might want to rethink when and how much we eat. Including an extended fast in our daily dietary pattern may have benefits.
Researchers caution that the study was observational and focused on a religious group whose members are unusually healthy non-smokers who tend to avoid alcohol and eat less meat than the general population. Half of the people in the study were vegetarians.
Read More: The Case for a Breakfast Feast