Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Breakfast Is Key to Weight Loss

A new study reported today by BBC concluded that breakfast is the key to weight loss.

While there were multiple problems with the regimen being studied and the way the study was conducted, the results are impressive. Participants in the study group ate a high-carbohydrate, 600-calorie breakfast for 8 months and lost weight. The average participant went from about 200 pounds to about 160 pounds. The average 20 percent weight loss is substantial when compared to the 5 pounds of weight loss in a typical study regimen.

Scientists dubbed this approach the “big breakfast diet,” but they shouldn’t have. A 600-calorie breakfast is not exactly a big meal. But this study result expands the extent of the benefits of food energy at breakfast. Previous studies had established that there was a big difference between eating a small breakfast (around 150 calories, which could be a glass of orange juice and a piece of toast) and skipping breakfast. This new study suggests that the difference between a small breakfast and a normal-size breakfast is important when it comes to losing weight.

One likely explanation for this effect of breakfast is the food-craving theory of weight loss. A normal-size meal that contains normal level of carbohydrates typically reduces food cravings for the next 12 hours. So eating a normal breakfast could mean you won’t be quite so hungry at lunch and supper.

This result fits with my own experience. The only time I experienced rapid weight gain was when I was attending a college that couldn’t be bothered to open its cafeterias for breakfast. Eating a small breakfast or skipping it entirely, I put on about 20 pounds in about six months — then lost all the extra weight over the next summer vacation as I ate on a more normal schedule.

Some of the benefits of eating breakfast have been known for a long time. It makes you more alert and energetic all morning and helps maintain a normal sleep schedule. Now it can be said that eating breakfast can help you lose weight.