We’ve all heard the age-old advice ‘Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’ which is meant to reflect the belief that more of your calories should be eaten earlier in the day because it ‘kickstarts’ your metabolism and helps prevent unnecessary weight gain.
However, a recent editorial piece in The Telegraph quotes a well-known physician as saying that breakfast is a relatively new invention and that there isn’t much evidence for either hunter-gatherers, or indeed people as recently as 500 years ago, as being breakfast eaters.
But what’s the actual evidence that eating breakfast, or not as the case may be, is good for you.
Recently, in the first study of its kind to be run in the UK, scientists led by Professor Alexandra Johnstone from the University of Aberdeen’s Rowett Institute in collaboration and Professor Jonathan Johnston from the University of Surrey, discovered that regardless of when calories were consumed, energy is similarly utilised.
The study, which compared the impact of breakfast calories versus evening calories in adult men and women who are overweight and obese showed that whilst the time of consumption of calories does impact appetite and hunger, it did not change energy metabolism in healthy individuals, even if overweight or obese.
So these findings directly challenge previous studies which have suggested that ‘evening eaters’ have a greater likelihood of gaining weight and are less able to lose it and that eating the bulk of your daily calories at different times of the day makes no overall difference to your metabolism.
Prof Johnstone said “The same number of calories were consumed by volunteers at different times of the day with energy expenditure measures using analysis of urine and other gold standard laboratory techniques. This study is important because it challenges the previously held belief that eating at different times of the day leads to differential energy expenditure”
When’s the best time to eat when losing weight?
What seems to be true is that there is no optimum time to eat in order to manage weight when undertaking a weight loss regime, and that its energy balance overall is what determines change in body weight
Prof John Johnston of the University of Surrey says “Our new research shows that, in weight loss conditions, the size of breakfast and dinner regulates our appetite but not the total amount of energy that our bodies use”
What we say…
Here at LighterLife we have always said that you should listen to your body and eat when you are hungry, and that more importantly, in otherwise healthy adults who are actively managing their weight, don’t feel as if you have to eat breakfast because you’ve read somewhere that you should, but rather pay attention to your own cues and follow those instead of the time on the clock.