The received wisdom suggests that the less one eats, the quicker they will lose weight. But in actuality, the calorie restriction can be counterproductive if done with only weight loss in mind. A healthy weight appears to be co-authored by metabolism and routine.
New research presented at the 2020 European and International Conference on Obesity, posits that those who consume significantly more calories at breakfast than they do at dinner tend to adhere to healthier diets in addition to maximizing the energy they receive from food. Moreover, this demographic decreases their risk of developing obesity and high blood pressure.
Most dieticians recommend men obtain between 400 and 500 calories at breakfast while suggesting women try to shoot between 300 and 400.
Ideal outcomes revolve around a process called, diet-induced thermogenesis or DIT for short.
DIT denotes the body’s ability to produce heat after eating a meal. This process supports nervous system activity and increases one’s Resting Metabolic Rate (the rate of energy expenditure per unit time).
Eating in the morning dramatically improves the functionality of DIT–irrespective of the number of calories consumed.
“Timing of energy intake may be an important modifiable behavior to consider in future nutritional interventions. Further analysis is now needed to examine whether the distribution of energy intake and/or the types of food consumed in the evening are associated with measures of body composition and cardiometabolic health,” the authors wrote in the new report.
More broadly speaking, those who consume a big breakfast burn twice as many calories throughout the day compared to those who consume big dinners. These additionally evidence fewer cravings for sugary foods.
The surprising impact of DIT
The new study was helmed by researchers at Ulster University.
To support their thesis, the team recruited a group of 1,177 adults between the ages of 19 and 64.
These participants were originally involved in the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey. that began back in 2012. The project tracks a different group of 1,000 British citizens’ eating and nutrition habits each year. For this study, though, the research team only focused on data covering 2012-2017. Each was tasked with completing food diaries.
Participants were placed into four groups based on the average amount of calories that they typically consumed after 6 pm. Diet quality was assessed via the Nutrient Rich Food Index.
The lowest tier consumed roughly 31% of their daily calorie intake at night, while the highest group consumed nearly 50% of their daily calories around that time.
On average, the study pool derived 40% of their daily energy value from evening meals, although subjects who ate the least at nighttime tended to consume the lowest number of total daily calories across all groups.
Identical calorie consumption was responsible for 2.5 times higher DIT in the morning compared to evening high-calorie and low-calorie meals.
Similarly, increases in blood sugar and insulin decreased after breakfast compared with dinner, while low-calorie breakfasts increased appetites for junk food.
“Our results suggest that consuming a lower proportion of EI in the evening may be associated with lower daily energy intake, while consuming a greater proportion of energy intake in the evening may be associated with a lower diet quality score,” the authors concluded say in a University statement.“We recommend that patients with obesity as well as healthy people eat a large breakfast rather than a large dinner to reduce body weight and prevent metabolic diseases.”