"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." We've all heard that a thousand times. Well, some new research is supporting the idea that breakfast should also be your largest meal of the day. It appears that by having more of your calories up front and fewer for lunch and dinner helps to improve insulin response and blood sugar levels. Why is this important? Let's look at two recent studies.
The first study put overweight and obese women on a 1400 calorie diet. The 'breakfast' group ate 700 kcal at breakfast, 500 kcal at lunch, and a 200 kcal dinner. The 'dinner' group ate the same number of calories but ate 200 kcal at breakfast, 500 kcal at lunch, and a 700 kcal dinner. They did this for 12 weeks. The results showed that the breakfast group lost more weight, more inches, decreased their triglycerides, glucose and insulin, and were less hungry than the dinner group.
In the second study the women weren't trying to lose weight but had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition that is associated with insulin resistance, higher than normal testosterone, and reduced ovulation. In a similar fashion to the study above, one group ate more calories at breakfast (980 kcal), had a sensible lunch (640 kcal), and a low calorie dinner (190 kcal). The dinner group had equal daily calories but less calories at breakfast (190 kcal), same lunch (640 kcal) and a large dinner (980 kcal). Again, eating more at breakfast lead to lowered glucose and insulin. It also helped these women decrease their testosterone and increase their ovulation rate.
So, to recap, eating more at breakfast and less at dinner helps to improve insulin sensitivity and decrease blood glucose. This works better than just restricting calories overall for weight loss, improving triglycerides, and helping women with PCOS ovulate.
References: Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 March. PMID 23512957.
Clin Sci (Lond). 2013 Nov. PMID 23688334
Scott Figueroa and Holly Letourneau are naturopathic doctors and co-founders of Hart & Sol Integrative Healthcare.