LIFESTYLE

The Big Breakfast Diet: Nutritional Experts Reveal How To Do It Healthily

07/08/2013 10:34 BST

The best way of losing weight, according to a new study, is to top load your diet by making breakfast your biggest meal of the day.

But, for the diet to work properly, a big breakfast must be balanced by a very light supper.

Talking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Miguel Toribio-Mateas, Chair of BANT (British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy), said: "It is vital that we don’t let things go downhill after breakfast. Eating the right things at the right times throughout the day will help to keep your metabolism working well and promote healthy weight loss that you will not put back on again."

healthy breakfast

Researchers who led the study also revealed that such a diet - which is restricted to 1,400 calories - may help with conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers, led by Dr Daniela Jakubowicz, from Tel Aviv University in Israel, wrote in the journal Obesity: "Our results demonstrate that high-calorie breakfast shows increased compliance and is more beneficial than high-calorie dinner for weight loss, insulin sensitivity, and hunger suppression."

However, don't go buying ingredients for a massive fry-up just yet.

Alice Mackintosh, Nutrition Consultant at The Food Doctor said to HuffPost UK Lifestyle: "It is important to remember however that what constitutes the 1,400 calories is important, as no matter when you eat it, foods that increase insulin levels (such as high carb and sugar foods) are often the real culprits for weight gain."

HuffPost UK Lifestyle blogger and fitness expert Sam Feltham says: "Most people will lose weight eating 1,400 calories a day, but I'm impressed with the difference in weight loss and inch loss between the 2 groups.

I would recommend eating a big breakfast and having a small dinner as a general rule of thumb but what is more important is what goes into those meals. For me starting the day on eggs is the most important thing we should all be doing followed by having plenty of omega 3 fats."

healthy breakfast

But is it just a gimmick diet? The experts don't seem to think so.

Alice says: "This research demonstrates that it is not just quantity, but timing that effects the extent of weight loss. It is in line with the results we get as nutritional therapists, and with any weight loss program, eating more at the beginning of the day and less at the end is critical.

"This is for a few reasons, firstly eating first thing gets your metabolism working. If you deprive it first thing, the body’s metabolism will often slow down to compensate for the lack of energy. When you then come to eat later on, you are less likely to burn the fuel off and will more likely to store it away.

"Secondly, we don’t require large amount of fuel before bed. If we have a large meal and then aren’t active after, that energy will be taken and stored away as fat. If we are active afterwards, research has shown that our insulin levels (which are responsible for storing energy in the form of fat) stay low, which promotes weight loss."

Scientists studied 93 obese women who were split into two groups and given carefully structured meals.

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Both groups ate 1,400 calories daily for 12 weeks, but with opposite patterns of consumption.

One consumed half their total calorie allowance at breakfast time. Breakfast consisted of 700 calories, lunch 500 and dinner just 200. The other group consumed 200 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 700 at the end of the day.

After 12 weeks women in the "big breakfast" group had each lost an average of 17.8lbs and three inches off their waistlines.

In comparison, women in the "big dinner" group lost 7.3lb and 1.4in off their waists.

The big breakfast group also experienced significant reductions in blood levels of insulin, glucose and triglyceride fats.

Triglycerides, which contribute to heart disease, fell by more than a third in the big breakfast group but increased by 14.6% in the "big dinner" group.

breakfast

But what does constitute a healthy breakfast? Miguel added: "Poached egg on granary wholemeal toast, omelette, porridge with ground nuts and fresh berries, greek yoghurt with pumpkin and sunflower seeds and strawberries… these are the sorts of breakfasts we would be looking for people to introduce for a healthy start to the day. Good quality protein to fill you up, fresh fruit which is tasty and packed with nutrients, and some carbohydrates for energy."

Dr Jakubowicz added: "Our study indicates that avoidance of large meals in the evening may be particularly beneficial in improving glucose and lipid (fat) profiles and may lead to reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases."

The study was confined to obese women showing symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a condition that can lead to diabetes. Further research is needed to see if a "big breakfast" eating pattern benefits other people.