Breakfast Is Important But Can Cause Weight Gain

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Can eating a big breakfast help you lose weight or does it contribute to weight gain? That depends, according to a new study, on what you eat the rest of the day.

Have breakfast but keep the calories down

We have been told for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For children this is especially true, as research has shown that children who skip breakfast score lower on cognitive tests, have poorer memory recall, have more behavioral and academic problems, and are more likely to be tardy or to be absent from school.

A great deal of debate, however, has centered around the role of breakfast and weight gain or weight loss in adults. Some previous studies have indicated that people who consume a big breakfast end up eating more calories during the day while others have claimed that eating a big breakfast tends to make people eat less at subsequent meals and thus consume fewer calories overall.

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So which is it? Can a big breakfast help with weight loss or does it result in weight gain? In a new study headed by Professor Dr. Volker Schusdziarra of Technical University of Munich and colleagues, this question was tackled using two groups of volunteers. A total of 280 obese individuals who were seeking weight loss assistance were enrolled, plus 100 normal weight volunteers who were solicited from advertisements.

All the study participants were asked to meticulously record their total daily food and beverage intake over 10 days (obese subjects) or 14 days (normal weight). Information requested included what they ate, when they ate it, and how it was prepared. They were asked to use a scale whenever possible and to not change their normal food intake because it could jeopardize subsequent dietary counseling recommendations.

The researchers found that increasing the number of calories consumed at breakfast was associated with greater intake overall in both groups. Proportionally however, a higher calorie breakfast was associated with a significant reduction in overall caloric intake on days when individuals ate less calories in their meals and snacks during the rest of the day.

In other words, the influence of the ratio of breakfast calories to overall calories for the day largely depends on what people eat for lunch, dinner, and any snacks during the day. Therefore, to help prevent weight gain, overweight and obese individuals should skip the big breakfast and consume a reasonable one as part of a balanced weight reduction program.

SOURCES:
Food Research and Action Center
Schusdziarra V et al. Nutrition Journal 2011; 10:5

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