(CNN) — Many people consume most of their calories at night, limiting breakfast due to busy mornings due to work and school, and experts have long thought that eating late favored weight gain or hindered weight loss . According to previous research, you have to eat little at night and make breakfast the most important meal, so that the body has time to burn excess calories throughout the day.
The prevailing argument is that eating more calories earlier “switches your metabolism” in ways that promote greater weight loss, said Dr. David Katz, founder and former director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. , via email.
However, eating a large breakfast instead of a larger meal later in the day did not influence weight loss, according to a new clinical trial that compared people who consumed most of their daily calories at breakfast with that they did at dinner.
“Whether the most calories were consumed in the morning or at night, the researchers found almost identical weight loss,” said Katz, who was not involved in the study. In addition, “any magical effect” of eating early on the body’s metabolism was debunked, she said, describing the research as “extremely rigorous.”
“Thus, this study disproves the claim that eating early alters metabolism in a way that promotes greater weight loss,” Katz said.
The study, published Friday in the journal Cell Metabolism, was a randomized “crossover” trial. Thirty overweight or obese but otherwise healthy people spent four weeks eating 45% of their allotted calories at the morning meal, 35% at lunch, and 20% at dinner. The same group then went on to four weeks in which the evening meal had more calories: 20% in the morning, 35% at lunch and 45% at dinner.
“Participants received all their meals for eight weeks,” Alexandra Johnstone, study co-author and professor of medicine at the Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, said in a statement, “and had their energy expenditure and body composition monitored to detect changes.
However, there is good news for big breakfast eaters. If your downfall is being hungry all the time, eating a lot in the morning could help curb your appetite, according to the study.
“We know that appetite control is important in achieving weight loss, and our study suggests that those who consumed more calories in the morning felt less hungry, in contrast to when they consumed more calories in the evening period,” said Johnstone.
“While claims about the ‘metabolic’ benefits of calories consumed earlier in the day are disputed, this paper establishes a plausible alternative: a potential weight loss benefit… through greater satiety and less hunger.” Katz said.
A body’s metabolic rate is determined by how quickly (or slowly) it converts calories into energy. To lose weight, the body must expend more energy than calories consumed. “The more active you are, the more calories you will burn” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Aerobic exercise is the most effective way to burn calories, but strength training is also important, experts say. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat, both at rest and during exercise.
Earlier research, carried out with larger groups of people for periods of time longer, have found that people who consume the most calories in the morning do lose weight.
Eight weeks may not have been long enough for weight loss to be seen in the new research, according to the study authors, or other studies may not have measured body composition and energy expenditure in the same way.
In any case, the results of the new research should not be used to “refute the importance of breakfast for hungry people, nor does it address the difference between eating breakfast and ‘skipping’ breakfast in terms of weight,” Katz said.
It simply suggests that consuming more calories at breakfast and fewer at dinner “may promote less hunger, more satiety during weight loss,” he said, assuming the meals are nutritionally comparable.