You've probably heard the old maxim, "Eat breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper." But that's nowhere near what most people do. It's such a busy world we live in that most of us do just the opposite. There's not enough time to prepare, sit down, and eat a big breakfast.
Instead, we have a quick cup of coffee and some fruit or toast and get moving. Then at night, when we're starving to death we fill up on all the calories our bodies needed during the day as if we could make it up. No paupers there. For years, I've been cautioning my patients against this unhealthy practice. Especially if they're overweight. And now, a new study shows this to be pretty good advice.
The researchers looked at a group of obese men and women aged 21-60 years. They assigned half of them to a breakfast containing at least 700 calories. The other group was not allowed to eat anything until noon. The experiment went on for six weeks. Here's what they found.
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The breakfast group had a significantly greater level of physical activity than those who fasted. That's easy to understand. You're not going to have as much energy when fasting as when fed. They also ate less, on average 338 calories less. That's because eating a big breakfast results in much better appetite control. But that's not all. The breakfast group had an improvement in their insulin sensitivity that was not seen in the skippers. And that increase in insulin sensitivity puts them at a much lower risk of diabetes. And here's something else to remember.
This study was done with obese men and women. And obesity causes insulin resistance all by itself. That's why being overweight is one of the strongest risk factors for diabetes. So, the fact that a big breakfast started to reverse the insulin resistance tendency means that people who are overweight will be less likely to get diabetes simply by eating a big breakfast. How easy is that! As I said above, for years I've been telling my patients not to skip breakfast. In fact, I take it quite a bit further. I tell them to eat as much as their stomach will tolerate and to make the breakfast consist almost entirely of protein and fat. Here are some suggestions.
Eat a two-to-three egg omelet with cheese and vegetables. Or how about two-to-three fried eggs with some breakfast meat or cottage cheese. And make sure it's all cooked with a copious amount of butter and/or olive oil. If you want something fast, go for some high-fat yoghurt with some berries. Be sure to eat until you are completely full. Then watch what happens. You will have much more energy throughout the day and your appetite will decrease. In short, you will eat like a king and feel like one too.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Chowdhury EA, Richardson JD, et. al. The causal role of breakfast in energy balance and health: a randomized controlled trial in obese adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):747-56.