No benefit to a big breakfast: Consuming most calories in the morning won’t help you lose weight

BALTIMORE — If you’re of the mindset that consuming the bulk of your daily calories in the morning will help get rid of unwanted flab, a new study shows otherwise. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say that the “big breakfast” diet simply doesn’t help people lose weight.

Some health gurus have long thought that eating a larger meal for breakfast, then a little less at lunch time, and even fewer in the evening helps shed the pounds. But the study of 41 overweight adults over 12 weeks reveals that squeezing most calories in early has no impact on weight loss.

The research involved restricting meals to early in the day among participants.

“We have wondered for a long time if when one eats during the day affects the way the body uses and stores energy,” says study co-author Dr. Nisa M. Maruthur, an associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and nursing at Hopkins, in a statement. “Most prior studies have not controlled the number of calories, so it wasn’t clear if people who ate earlier just ate fewer calories. In this study, the only thing we changed was the time of day of eating.”

No difference whether people eat a bigger breakfast versus a bigger dinner

Most of the participants (90 percent) were black women with prediabetes or diabetes, with an average age of 59. Researchers instructed about half of the group to follow a time-restricted eating pattern. That meant limiting eating to specific hours of the day and consuming 80 percent of their calories before 1 p.m.

The other half ate at usual times during a 12-hour window, consuming half of their daily calories after 5 p.m. for the entire 12 weeks.

All participants ate the same pre-prepared, healthy meals provided for the study. Weight and blood pressure were measured at the beginning of the study; then at four weeks, eight weeks and 12 weeks.

Marathur says that people in both groups lost weight while decreasing blood their pressure — regardless of when they ate. “We thought that the time-restricted group would lose more weight. Yet that didn’t happen,” she explains. “We did not see any difference in weight loss for those who ate most of their calories earlier versus later in the day. We did not see any effects on blood pressure either.”

Looking ahead, the authors are now collecting more information on participants’ blood pressure over a full day. They’ll also compile that information with the results of a study on the effects of time-restricted feeding on blood sugar, insulin and other hormones.

“Together, these findings will help us to more fully understand the effects of time-restricted eating on cardiometabolic health,” concludes Marathur.

The findings are due to be presented at the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions, being held virtually later this week.

SWNS reporter Stephen Beech contributed to this report.