By Katherine Harmon
(Click here for the original article and podcast)
Your mother was right: breakfast is the most important meal of the day--especially if you're looking to lose weight. And the bigger the better, according to a new study in the journal Obesity. [Daniela Jakubowicz et al., High Calorie Intake at Breakfast versus Dinner Differentially Influences Weight Loss of Overweight and Obese Women]
But shouldn't a calorie be just a calorie, whether it's eaten morning, noon or night? Not quite. Timing, it turns out, is key.
The study included 93 overweight or obese women. Half the women ate 700-calorie breakfasts, 500-calorie lunches and 200-calorie dinners. The other reversed it, with a 200-calorie breakfast, the same 500-calorie lunch and a 700-calorie dinner.
After three months, those eating the jumbo breakfasts lost an average of 17.8 pounds and three inches from their waistlines--10 pounds and an inch-and-a-half more than the group having skimpy breakfasts and big dinners.
Those who ate the big breakfasts also had better insulin control, and improved glucose and triglyceride levels for the rest of the day than those who ate more of their calories late. So when you're thinking about skipping breakfast again, think of mom--and eat something substantial before you leave the house!
Also on HuffPost:
A 2003 study in <a href="http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/158/1/85.full">the <em>American Journal of Epidemiology</em> </a>showed that people who skip breakfast are 4.5 times more likely to be obese than those who take a morning meal. The study, which included 499 people whose diets were tracked over a year-long period, also showed that <a href="http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/158/1/85.full">eating out for dinner and breakfast</a> are linked with obesity risk.
...Are All-Around Healthier
A study presented in 2003 at the American Heart Association's annual conference showed that not only are breakfast-eaters less likely to be obese, they're also more likely to <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2824987.stm">have good blood sugar levels</a> and less likely to be hungry later on in the day, BBC News reported. "Our results suggest that breakfast may really be the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2824987.stm">most important meal of the day</a>," study researcher Dr. Mark Pereira, of Harvard Medical School at the time, told BBC News. "It appears that breakfast may play an important role in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease."
...Feel More Energized
Eating a breakfast that's high in fiber and carbohydrates could help you feel less tired throughout the day, according to a 1999 study in <a href="http://www.colorado.edu/intphys/Class/IPHY3700_Greene/pdfs/atkins/Holt.pdf">the <em>International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition</em></a>. Researchers found that when people ate a high-fiber, low-carb breakfast, they <a href="http://www.webmd.com/diet/fiber-health-benefits-11/fatigue-fighters-six-quick-ways-boost-energy">had more energy</a> throughout the day compared with people who ate a high-fat breakfast, WebMD reported. <em><strong>CORRECTION:</strong> A previous version of this slideshow incorrectly stated that a high-fat, low-carb breakfast was associated with more energy. It has been fixed to say that a high-fiber, low-carb breakfast is associated with more energy.</em>
…Have Better Cholesterol Levels
A study in <a href="http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/2/388.abstract?cited-by=yes&legid=ajcn;81/2/388">the <em>American Journal of Clinical Nutrition</em></a> showed that breakfast-skippers are more likely to have worse cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity than breakfast-eaters. The study also showed that the breakfast-eaters consume about <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500368_162-673419.html">100 fewer calories</a> a day, compared with people who skip their morning meal, CBS News reported.
Eating high-energy foods for breakfast could help to <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/019700709190042K">boost short-term memory</a>, according to a study of 319 teens (between ages 13 and 20) in the <em>Journal of Adolescent Health</em>. Researchers also found that eating a high-calorie breakfast actually seemed to <em>hinder</em> concentration.
...Consume More Nutrients
People who rarely eat breakfast <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22125684">consume more fat and fewer nutrients</a> -- like calcium, potassium and fiber -- than regular breakfast-eaters and "often" breakfast-eaters, according to a 2011 study in the journal <em>Nutrition Research and Practice</em>.
…Have An Excuse To Eat Healthy Breakfast Foods
Breakfast-eaters have an excuse to consume healthy breakfast-time foods like oatmeal, eggs, grapefruit and coffee. Oatmeal has been shown in many studies to be <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-01/uok-ohc010808.php">good for cholesterol levels</a>, and research has also shown that it could help <a href="http://ase.tufts.edu/psychology/spacelab/pubs/MahoneyEtAl.pdf">improve children's memory</a> and attention skills when eaten for breakfast, compared with ready-to-eat cereals. Grapefruit is high in vitamins C and A, and has also been shown in a <em>Clinical Cancer Research</em> study this year to <a href="http://www.ivillage.com/grapefruit-juice-may-give-boost-cancer-treatment-study/4-a-478748">boost the beneficial effects of cancer drugs</a>, HealthDay reported. Eating eggs for breakfast has been linked to <a href="http://www.jacn.org/content/24/6/510.full">increased satiety </a><em>and</em> less food consumed later in the day, compared with eating bagels for breakfast, according to a 2005 study in the <em>Journal of the American College of Nutrition</em>. (The study was funded by the Egg Nutrition Center.) And coffee, of course, has been linked to a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/31/coffee-health-benefits_n_1064577.html#slide=440649">whole host of health benefits</a>, from a decreased risk of depression to a lower risk of some cancers and Type 2 diabetes.
How to make Breakfast Shake
Learn how to start the day with a healthy breakfast, the breakfast shake.