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Timing of food is everything for weight loss: Why you should eat dessert at breakfast

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Eat your cake at breakfast and lose weight.

You’ve heard it before, but here it is again. If you want to lose weight, make breakfast your biggest meal of the day that might even include a sweet treat like a cookie or a piece of cake. Eating cake or cookies with breakfast instead of after dinner can also help thwart diabetes and heart disease according to study findings that seem too good to be true.

Tel Aviv University researchers have shown eating a high calorie breakfast can protect from diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity and lower overall risk of disease by fighting obesity.

According to the researchers, it not only matters what we eat, but when we eat is also important when it comes to keeping our waistlines trim and maintaining a healthy weight.

If dinner is usually your biggest meal of the day, consider the new finding that people who eat a big breakfast have more success losing weight and reducing waist circumference than people that eat a big dinner.

Weight loss dependent on circadian rhythm

Why does when we eat matter more than what we eat when it comes to losing weight?

Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine said in a press release that it’s all about our circadian rhythm or 24-hour clock and the way we process food that is important for weight loss.

Participants in the study not only lost pounds and inches around the waist, but they also lowered their risk factors for diabetes and heart disease in addition to lowering their cholesterol numbers.

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The finding was originally presented in 2012 at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society and highlighted again in an August 5, 2013 press release from the Tel Aviv researchers. The study was also recently published in the journal Obesity.

The finding that eating a bigger breakfast can help stave off hunger throughout the day, lower our risk factors for heart disease, also supported by a recent Harvard study, and help us shed pounds and inches around the waist is too noteworthy for anyone to miss.

The meal plan

For the investigation, 93 obese women consumed 1400 calories a day. But those who lost weight were the women that ate a high calories breakfast.

All of the women also ate a moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-fat diet throughout the study.

What made the difference between losing weight and improving risk factors for disease was that one group took 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch, and 200 at dinner, while the second group ate a 200 calorie breakfast, 500 calorie lunch, and 700 calorie dinner. The 700 calorie breakfast and dinner included the same foods.

The result
Here’s what happened from eating a bigger breakfast and less at dinner times for 12 weeks:

  • Participants lost an average of 17.8 pounds and slimmed their waistlines by 3-inches.
  • The group that ate a big dinner instead lost just 7.3 pounds and 1-inch from the mid-section.
  • The ‘big breakfast’ group snacked less and had lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
  • The big breakfast group had a greater decrease in insulin, glucose, and triglyceride levels without high glucose spikes that are typical after a meal. The study authors say that’s important because sudden surges in blood sugar are more damaging to the heart that sustained high glucose levels.

The research shows planning your meals is paramount for weight loss. You might be eating the right foods, but when you eat them seems to be even more important.

In the study, triglyceride levels rose despite the participant's weight loss. If you want to lose weight, consider rearranging your meal plans. Eat your cookies or cake with breakfast and go light on dinner. Changing up when, but not necessarily what you eat, could also improve overall health by lowering your risk factors for diabetes, stroke and heart disease.