While what you eat certainly matters, when you eat is beginning to get far more attention. As proponents of intermittent fasting make the news and the never-ending debate between snack fans and three-square-meal people rages on, science is beginning to catch up with the idea of hacking the temporality of meals for optimal health. A recent review of 50,000 adults who are Seventh-Day Adventists over seven years has results that suggest eating a larger breakfast and tapering off meals throughout the day jump-starts the metabolism and prevents obesity. They found that people who had their biggest meal at breakfast had lower BMIs and better health results.
Other studies have corroborated these findings, and the American Heart Association recently released a statement acknowledging the role of meal timing and strongly encouraging people not to skip breakfast. "Meal timing may affect health due to its impact on the body’s internal clock. In animal studies, it appears that when animals receive food while in an inactive phase, such as when they are sleeping, their internal clocks are reset in a way that can alter nutrient metabolism, resulting in greater weight gain, insulin resistance, and inflammation. However, more research would need to be done in humans before that can be stated as a fact," said Marie-Pierre St.-Onge, Ph.D., in the statement.
Blue Zones author Dan Buettner, who has spent decades studying the lifestyle habits of the world's longest-lived people, agrees. "You see the same pattern no matter where you go: breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper—or no dinner at all," he said in a recent interview.
As for what to eat for that breakfast? The best choice is one that you're excited to eat. Here are some healthy smoothie recipes for inspo, and a registered dietitian's guide to making a breakfast that will keep you full for hours.