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Nutrition And You!

Count calories but also watch the clock

Adapted from the Nutrition And You! blog at Boston.com

There may be something to the old adage to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper when it comes to better managing your weight, according to a study published in the journal Obesity. Researchers at Tel Aviv University studied how changing the timing of meals by switching between a high calorie breakfast and a high calorie dinner, but keeping the total daily calories the same, would impact weight loss.

In the 12-week study, 50 overweight women were randomly assigned to a 1,400-calorie diet that consisted of a breakfast of 700 calories, a lunch of 500 calories, and a dinner of 200 calories or the same calories and same food choices but with the breakfast and dinner meals switched.

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While both groups lost significant amounts of weight, the women consuming the large breakfast lost an average of approximately 19 pounds compared with only about 8 pounds in the large dinner group.

The breakfast group also lost twice as many inches around their waists than the large dinner eaters. Because the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite, was lower during the day in the breakfast group, these women also experienced higher levels of satiety, or that feeling of fullness, throughout the day. In addition, large breakfast eaters also had significantly lower levels of insulin, glucose, and fat in their blood, which may help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The secret may lie in the body’s circadian rhythms, which can influence hormone release and other bodily functions.

“Metabolism is impacted by the body’s circadian rhythm, the biological process that the body follows over a 24-hour cycle. So the time of day we eat can have a big impact on the way our bodies process food,” says Professor Daniela Jakubowicz, MD, of Tel Aviv’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the lead researcher of this study.

This isn’t the first study to suggest that eating your larger meal earlier in the day can have some health benefits. For those trying to lose weight, flipping your calories to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper may help you flip the numbers on the bathroom scale.

Here are some tips:

Consider having a larger breakfast and smaller dinner. Consuming protein at each meal will help keep you full between meals.

Stop eating after dinner. Avoid munching in the evening, which is often related more to boredom than hunger.

Make sure that your diet is well-balanced to meet your daily nutrients needs. Fiber-rich whole fruit, vegetables, and whole grains are important dietary staples that also satisfy hunger between meals.

Read more of this blog at Boston.com/NutritionAndYou
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