Another interesting area of research investigates whether the time of day calories are consumed influences weight loss changes at all. This happens to be a focus area for researcher, Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz from Tel Aviv University in Israel. In their recent study, overweight and obese women were provided a 1400 calorie diet and were followed for 12 weeks. The women in the study were split into two groups. The first group was the “big breakfast” group, consuming 700 calories a breakfast, 500 at lunch and 200 calories with dinner. The second group was the “big dinner” group, consuming just the opposite pattern: 200 at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 700 calories with dinner. Both groups lost weight (remember the golden rule is calories in vs. calories out); however, what was astonishing about this study is that the “big breakfast” group lost on average 10 more pounds and 1.5 more inches from their waistline than the “big dinner” group did. Researchers also noted that the “big breakfast” group experienced significant reductions in insulin levels, glucose and triglyceride fats.
Does this mean this gives us free-reign to go and order 2 donuts and a large chocolate-caramel coffee drink for breakfast every morning? Absolutely not. The quality of calories still plays a major role here. Plus, keep in mind that it may not be very sustainable to consume only 200 calories with dinner for an extended period of time. Two hundred calorie dinners would most likely look like a lean portion of protein such as chicken, egg whites or tilapia, and some steamed vegetables.
This study does illustrate some interesting health points as well as stimulate more questions regarding nutritional intake. It only makes sense that we should be consuming more of our calories during our active parts of the day, right? Unfortunately, it is well documented that breakfast is the most commonly missed meal of the day.
If you think about it, the majority of Americans are accustomed to enjoying a large dinner meal at night. And then what happens? We typically lounge by watching TV or reading, maybe perform a few chores, but ultimately we all go to bed to rest for the day. So why should we be consuming the majority of our calories for the day with our last meal? More research is still needed in this area, but it does give us a lot to think about when considering, “what are the best practices to achieve a healthy weight loss?”
If you are interested in switching up your caloric intake patterns throughout the day, here are a few examples of squeezing in some extra calories with the breakfast meal. Remember to focus on quality, wholesome foods instead of adding processed sugars and starches for extra calories. Breakfast food never has to be “breakfast food” either. Feel free to experiment with non-traditional breakfast menu items too!
Eggs, oatmeal, smoothies and Greek yogurt are open canvases! Experiment with any combination of added nutrients from whole foods to paint a new breakfast picture each day of the week!