Eat Breakfast Like a King to Prevent Metabolic Syndrome

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A new study has found evidence that flies in the face of current thinking. Eating a high-fat breakfast may help prevent metabolic syndrome, according to researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

The study, published online March 30 in the International Journal of Obesity, examined the timing of certain types of foods in the development of metabolic syndrome in mice. Mice fed a meal higher in fat just after waking had normal metabolic profiles. Those who ate a higher carbohydrate diet, but consumed a high fat meal at the end of the day, had increased weight gain, glucose intolerance, and other markers of metabolic syndrome.

The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that occur together, increasing the tendency to development coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The two biggest contributing factors for developing metabolic syndrome are excess abdominal fat (central obesity) and insulin resistance (prediabetes). Other hallmarks of the syndrome include high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high LDL (bad) and low HDL (good) cholesterol. Goals for treatment include weight loss, increasing physical activity, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

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It is estimated that about 50 million Americans have the metabolic syndrome.

Lead author Molly Bray PhD and team found that fat intake at the time of waking seems to efficiently turn on fat metabolism so that the animal was better able to respond to different types of food later in the day. When only carbohydrates are eaten, only that specific metabolic pathway was opened up for the rest of the day, leading to only metabolizing carbs and storing fat.

“The first meal you have appears to program your metabolism for the rest of the day,” she said. “(Having) a fat-rich breakfast, you have metabolic plasticity to transfer your energy utilization between carbohydrates and fat.”

Dr. Bray says that because humans rarely eat a uniform diet throughout the day, mixing foods with carbohydrate, protein, and fat components, the body needs to be better able to handle metabolizing all types of food more efficiently. However, before taking the recommendation to eat a high-fat diet overall, the authors emphasize that the study also included a lower calorie, lower fat diet at the end of the day, thus not increasing the overall daily calorie intake. Timing of dietary intake is just as important as quality and quantity of intake.

Author Daniela Jakubowicz used a similar theory when writing her weight-loss book “The Big Breakfast Diet”. She and a team of researchers conducted an eight-month study with 94 overweight women who ate a big breakfast and a smaller dinner. She found that when “overweight people (get) out of sync with what their bodies need – which is more food early in the day and less at night”, they often gain weight.

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Comments

It's funny how scientists always come up with these conclusions in new studies, when it's common sense to know these things.