Heavy breakfast may ward off diabetes, heart disease

Jerusalem: Taking a high-calorie breakfast may protect you against diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular problems, a new study has found.

Metabolism is impacted by the body`s circadian rhythm ? the biological process that the body follows over a 24 hour cycle. So the time of day we eat can have a big impact on the way our bodies process food, said Professor Daniela Jakubowicz of Tel Aviv University`s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Diabetes Unit at Wolfson Medical Center.

In the study, she discovered that those who eat their largest daily meal at breakfast are far more likely to lose weight and waist line circumference than those who eat a large dinner.

Participants who ate a larger breakfast - which included a dessert item such as a piece of chocolate cake or a cookie - also had significantly lower levels of insulin, glucose, and triglycerides throughout the day, translating into a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

The results indicate that proper meal timing can make an important contribution towards managing obesity and promoting an overall healthy lifestyle.

To determine the impact of meal timing on weight loss and health, Jakubowicz and her fellow researchers conducted a study in which 93 obese women were randomly assigned to one of two isocaloric groups.

Each consumed a moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-fat diet totalling 1,400 calories daily for a period of 12 weeks. The first group consumed 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch, and 200 at dinner.

The second group ate a 200 calorie breakfast, 500 calorie lunch, and 700 calorie dinner. The 700 calorie breakfast and dinner included the same foods.

By the end of the study, participants in the "big breakfast" group had lost an average of 8 kg each and three inches off their waist line, compared to a 3.3 kg and 1.4 inch loss for participants in the "big dinner" group.

According to Jakubowicz, those in the big breakfast group were found to have significantly lower levels of the hunger-regulating hormone ghrelin, an indication that they were more satiated and had less desire for snacking later in the day than their counterparts in the big dinner group.

The big breakfast group also showed a more significant decrease in insulin, glucose, and triglyceride levels than those in the big dinner group.

More important, they did not experience the high spikes in blood glucose levels that typically occur after a meal. Peaks in blood sugar levels are considered even more harmful than sustained high blood glucose levels, leading to high blood pressure and greater strain on the heart.

The results were published in the journal Obesity.


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