Having a large meal for breakfast that is rich in protein and carbs is linked to weight loss, research finds.
Dieters then stuck to a low calorie, low-carb diet for the rest of the day.
People following this diet lost four times as much weight as those just following a standard low-carb diet all day long.
Dr Daniela Jakubowicz and colleagues show that the success of a diet over the long-term relies on its ability to make you feel full and reduce carving for carbs and sweets.
They recruited 94 physically inactive obese women and divided them into two group to see if having a big breakfast high in protein and carbohydrates is more effective than a strict low-carb diet.
The very low-carb diet contained 1,085 calories a day based on 78 grams of fat, 51 grams of protein, and 17 grams of carbohydrates.
For participants who were on this diet, breakfast was the smallest meal throughout the day, containing just 290 calories.
Dieters could have milk, eggs, meat, fruit, cereal, and bread for breakfast but the amount of carbohydrates was only 7 grams and protein 12 grams.
The big-breakfast diet group consumed 1,240 calories per day consisting of 97 grams of carbohydrates, 93 grams of protein, and 46 grams of fat.
Their breakfast was 610 calories containing 58 grams of carbs, 47 grams of protein, and 22 grams of fat.
Their lunch was 395 calories containing 34 grams of carbs, 28 grams of protein, and 13 grams of fat.
Their dinner was 235 calories grams 5 gram of carbs, 18 grams of protein, and 26 grams of fat.
The study period was eight months in which the first four months focused on losing weight and the last four months focused maintaining weight.
The strict low-carb group lost 28 pounds (12.7 kg) and the big-breakfast group lost 23 pounds (10.5 kg).
At eight months, however, the low-carb dieters regained 18 pounds (8.2 kg) whereas those on the big-breakfast diet kept losing weight and lost an extra 16.5 pounds (7.5 kg).
On average, those eating a big breakfast lost 21 percent of their weight but those on the low-carb diet only lost 4.5 percent of their weight.
In addition, after consuming their big breakfast, participants felt more full and craved fewer carbs and sweets.
Dr Jakubowicz said:
“Most weight loss studies have determined that a very low carbohydrate diet is not a good method to reduce weight.
It exacerbates the craving for carbohydrates and slows metabolism.
As a result, after a short period of weight loss, there is a quick return to obesity.”
Dr Jakubowicz believes that the big-breakfast diet works as over 15 years she has successfully used this diet plan on her patients.
It keeps appetite under control and lowers cravings for sugars or starches such as sweets, dessert, potatoes, pasta and bread.
It also contains more fruit and vegetables which will increase level of vitamins and fibre intake.
Dr Jakubowicz added:
“Only five percent of carbohydrate-restrictive diets are successful after two years.
Most carbohydrate-restrictive diets do not address addictive eating impulses.”
The study was presented at the Endocrine Society 90th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.