When you digest food, your body expends energy for the absorption, digestion, transport and storage of nutrients. This process is known as diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT). It shows how well your metabolism is working and can differ depending on when you eat a given meal. The new research published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism looked at how much this meal timing matters in terms of calories burnt.
A big breakfast burns more calories than an equally big dinner
The researchers conducted a 3-day laboratory study of 16 men who were first given a low-calorie breakfast and a high-calorie dinner, and vice versa the second time, a high calorie breakfast and a low-calorie dinner. They found identical calorie consumption led to 2.5 times higher DIT in the morning than in the evening after both high-calorie and low-calorie meals. The increase in blood sugar and insulin after breakfast was also smaller compared with dinner.
“Our results show that a meal eaten for breakfast, regardless of the amount of calories it contains, creates twice as high diet-induced thermogenesis as the same meal consumed for dinner,” said the study’s corresponding author, Juliane Richter, M.Sc., Ph.D., of University of Lübeck in Germany. “This finding is significant for all people as it underlines the value of eating enough at breakfast.”
How much should you eat for breakfast?
The results of this research also show that eating a low-calorie breakfast increased appetite, specifically for sweets. All of this combined makes it very clear that a big breakfast might be much better for weight management than a small one.
“We recommend that patients with obesity as well as healthy people eat a large breakfast rather than a large dinner to reduce body weight and prevent metabolic diseases,” Richter said.
So, if you want to upgrade from your donut and coffee on the go to a real breakfast, check out our series called “healthy breakfast” where you will find recipes and other tips on how to make breakfast work for you.