A breakfast high in fat is healthier for weight loss than a carbohydrate-rich morning meal, research finds.
Fat consumed in the morning stimulates the breakdown of fat, but carbohydrates do not improve fat or energy metabolism.
The old saying that you should “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper,” is useful advice.
A breakfast high in fat can improve metabolic profiles, while a high-carbohydrate meal in the morning and a high-fat diet for dinner can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, a study has found.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
Researchers in this study wanted to see if what we eat and when we eat can influence body weight or increase cardiometabolic syndrome risk.
They fed mice a high-fat meal after waking and saw that blood sugar levels, blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and waist circumference stayed normal.
On the other hand, mice that had high-carb foods in the morning and ate high-fat foods in the evening gained weight, adiposity, glucose intolerance, and elevated levels of triglycerides.
Professor Martin Young, study co-author, said:
“The first meal you have appears to program your metabolism for the rest of the day.
This study suggests that if you ate a carbohydrate-rich breakfast it would promote carbohydrate utilization throughout the rest of the day, whereas, if you have a fat-rich breakfast, you have metabolic plasticity to transfer your energy utilization between carbohydrate and fat.”
These findings suggest that weight loss regimes should consider the timing of food intake as well as quality and quantity of food.
Professor Molly Bray, the study’s first author said:
“Humans eat a mixed diet, and our study, which we have repeated four times in animals, seems to show that if you really want to be able to efficiently respond to mixed meals across a day then a meal in higher fat content in the morning is a good thing.
Another important component of our study is that, at the end of the day, the mice ate a low-caloric density meal, and we think that combination is key to the health benefits we’ve seen.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in International Journal of Obesity (Bray et al., 2010).