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Many people eat most of their calories at night, limiting breakfast due to busy workdays and school mornings, and experts have long believed that eating late adds to weight gain or hinders weight loss. weight. According to previous research, you should eat light in the evening and make breakfast your biggest meal to give your body time to burn off excess calories throughout the day.
The prevailing argument is that eating more calories earlier “alters metabolism” in ways that promote greater weight loss, Dr. David Katz, founder and former director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, said by email.
Yet eating a big breakfast instead of a larger meal later in the day had no impact on weight loss, according to a new clinical trial that compared people consuming most of their daily calories at breakfast with those who ate the most at dinner.
“With calories loaded in the morning or evening, the researchers found almost identical weight loss,” said Katz, who was not involved in the study. What’s more, “all the magical effects” of early eating on the body’s metabolism have been debunked, he said, describing the research as “extremely rigorous”.
“Thus, this study belies the claim that eating early alters metabolism in a way that promotes greater weight loss.” Katz said.
The study, published Friday in the journal Cell Metabolism, was a randomized “crossover” trial. Thirty overweight or obese but healthy people spent four weeks eating 45% of their assigned calories at breakfast, 35% at lunch, and 20% at dinner. The same group then moved to four weeks where the evening meal was the most caloric: 20% in the morning, 35% at lunch and 45% in the evening.
“Participants received all of their meals for eight weeks,” said study co-author Alexandra Johnstone, professor of medicine at the Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, “and their energy expenditure and their body composition was monitored for changes.
There was good news for heavy breakfast eaters, however. If being hungry all the time is your downfall, eating big in the morning could help curb your appetite, according to the study.
“We know appetite control is important for weight loss, and our study suggests those who ate more calories in the morning were less hungry, compared to those who ate more calories in the evening,” Johnstone said. .
“While disputing claims of ‘metabolic’ benefits from early-day calories, this paper establishes a plausible alternative: a potential weight loss benefit…via increased satiety and less hunger,” Katz said. .
A body’s metabolic rate is determined by how quickly (or slowly) it converts calories into energy. To lose weight, the body must expend more energy than calories consumed. “The more active you are, the more calories you burn,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Aerobic exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories, but strength training is also important, experts say. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat, both at rest and during exercise.
Previous research, conducted with larger groups of people over longer periods of time, has shown that people who fill up on calories in the morning lose weight. According to the study authors, it’s possible that eight weeks wasn’t long enough for weight loss to be seen in the new research, or that other studies didn’t measure body composition and weight loss. energy expenditure in the same way.
Regardless, the new research findings should not be used to “disprove the importance of breakfast for the hungry, nor discuss the role of ‘taking’ versus ‘skipping’ breakfast. lunch on the weight,” Katz said.
It just suggests that eating more calories at breakfast and fewer at dinner “may promote less hunger, more satiety during weight loss,” he said, assuming the meals are the same across the board. nutritional plan.
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