Weight Control: Better to Eat a Big Breakfast than Big Dinner

The importance of the time of day and our internal clock for food intake and energy metabolism is a very exciting research field. Future studies should investigate why we spend so much more energy after breakfast than after dinner

WeightControl.com Interview with:
M. Sc. Juliane Richter
University of Lübeck
Center of Brain, Behavior and Metabolism
Section of Psychoneurobiology

WeightControl.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: The background for this study is that there is still the misbelief that it does not matter when we eat and that the only thing that counts is the energy balance of the whole day. However, since our body has an internal clock and many processes in the body, for example glucose metabolism, are subject to diurnal variations, we investigated whether diet-induced thermogenesis also varies during the course of the day.

Diet-induced thermogenesis is the energy our body spends for the digestion, absorption and transport of nutrients. We found that diet-induced thermogenesis after breakfast is more than twice as high as after dinner. We also investigated whether this difference in time of day depends on the amount of calories consumed. In both cases, high- and low-calorie meals, the body spends more energy after breakfast than after dinner.

breakfast-timing of meals for weight control

WeightControl.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: These results underline the value of an extensive breakfast for our body. The resulting recommendation ‘rather a big breakfast than a large dinner’ – or as our grandparents said ‘eat breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper’ – can be applied to healthy people to prevent metabolic diseases as well as to patients with overweight and obesity to reduce their body weight.

WeightControl.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The importance of the time of day and our internal clock for food intake and energy metabolism is a very exciting research field. Future studies should investigate why we spend so much more energy after breakfast than after dinner. Although there are already first indications that gastric emptying and the absorption of carbohydrates, fats and proteins might be faster in the morning than in the evening, the exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood. Another exciting topic in this context are also the different chronotypes. Accordingly, an interesting research question would be whether diurnal variations in diet-induced thermogenesis differ between early risers and late risers.

WeightControl.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This was a short-term study with normal-weight participants. For those who want to know what long-term effects an extensive breakfast has in overweight people, I would like to recommend the study by Daniela Jakubowicz et al., published in Obesity in 2013. In this study, overweight participants received a diet for 12 weeks. One group had the most calories for breakfast; the other group had the most calories for dinner. After 12 weeks, the breakfast group lost more body weight than the dinner group.

Citation:

Juliane Richter, Nina Herzog, Simon Janka, Thalke Baumann, Alina Kistenmacher, Kerstin M Oltmanns, Twice as High Diet-Induced Thermogenesis After Breakfast vs Dinner On High-Calorie as Well as Low-Calorie Meals, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 105, Issue 3, March 2020, dgz311, https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgz311

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