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Eating A Big Breakfast May Help Boost Metabolism, New Study Finds

Eliza Sullivan
Author:
February 19, 2020
Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
By Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
Eliza Sullivan is a food writer and SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
Image by Sophia Hsin / Stocksy
February 19, 2020

In the seemingly never-ending debate of to breakfast or not to breakfast, a new study has come down in favor of breakfast, at least in terms of how a large breakfast compares to a large dinner.

The study, published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that eating a large breakfast versus a large dinner can have a pronounced impact on metabolism.

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Why a bigger breakfast might be best.

In order to consider how the timing of the meal (and thus, whether it's considered breakfast, lunch, or dinner) affects metabolism the researchers focused on a process called diet-induced thermogenesis, also known as DIT. This is a measure of the way the body uses energy for the absorption, digestion, transport, and storage of nutrients. It's considered a marker for how well our metabolism is working.

In the study, participants ate a more caloric breakfast and less caloric dinner for the first round, followed by the opposite for the second round. Though it used a small sample group (only 16 men participated) they saw that eating a larger portion of calories in the morning was associated with a DIT that was over twice as high.

They also found that peaks in blood sugar and insulin as a result of eating were less severe after a large breakfast than a large dinner and that a smaller breakfast was associated with more sugar cravings throughout the day.

"Our results show that a meal eaten for breakfast, regardless of the amount of calories it contains, creates twice as high diet-induced thermogenesis as the same meal consumed for dinner," said study author Juliane Richter, M.Sc., Ph.D., of University of Lübeck.

Is this the final word on the breakfast debate?

Probably not. The researchers do say that, based on their results, making breakfast your biggest meal may be advisable for certain people.

According to Richter, they "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."

As we know, it seems whether or not you eat breakfast—and how large of a breakfast you eat—is up to you. Research goes both ways, and with time-restricted eating growing in popularity, a big breakfast probably isn't the best way to break a fast.

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Eliza Sullivan
Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer

Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.