Reduction of Breakfast Calories Linked to Weight Loss

The actual role played by breakfast on daily energy intake is not known definitively. This study was undertaken to look into the precise role of breakfast in daily calorie consumption. The results showed that, “increasing breakfast energy was associated with greater overall intake in normal weight and obese subjects.” The authors drew the conclusion that, “reduced breakfast calorie intake is associated with lower total daily intake…Therefore, overweight and obese subjects should consider the reduction of breakfast calories as a simple option to improve their daily energy balance.”

The role of breakfast consumption in daily calories intake is a subject of debate. While some studies have shown that a high calorie intake at breakfast leads to lower total energy consumption throughout the day, other studies have shown that people who skip breakfast altogether may consume fewer calories throughout the day. This study was conducted to clear up this debate and determine the best method to plan breakfast, so that fewer calories are consumed throughout the day. An analysis of the food groups was also done to see whether any of them could significantly increase calorie intake. This study will be useful in counseling for diet control for overweight and obese people.

* For the study, 280 obese and 100 normal weight volunteers were included. Their food intake was recorded for 10 and 14 consecutive days, respectively.
* The participants, irrespective of their weight, had continued to maintain their weight for the past one year with no effort on their part.
* The participants were asked to keep a record of what they ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with details pertaining to the time and the size of the portion consumed. Any food taken between breakfast and lunch was called “morning snack”; similarly, food taken between lunch and dinner was termed “afternoon snack,” while what was eaten after dinner came under the category “evening snack.” Details about all calorie-containing drinks and snacks were also recorded.

* The results showed that obese subjects consumed an average of 121 calories to 606 calories in their breakfast. On the other hand, normal weight subjects consumed an average of 134 to 674 calories in their breakfast.
* In the obese participants, high breakfast calorie intake meant lesser calorie intake in the morning snack; however, it did not affect the afternoon and evening snack. “Total energy intake rose by ~400 kcal”.
* In the participants with normal weight, the high ratio of energy consumed at breakfast to total daily energy intake meant lower energy consumption during the day and vice versa.

Next steps/shortcomings
The authors write that since this study involved people who maintained their weight over the past year, the results may be skewed. This is due to the fact that these subjects are benefiting from a particular type of breakfast by not gaining weight. Also, they agree that the study sample was small and future studies with larger sample populations could reveal more on this issue.

The authors advise that in the case of obese and overweight people who are looking for prevention of weight gain and management of weight, reducing calorie intake in breakfast may help. They conclude that a heavy breakfast is not linked to lower energy intake during the day, as believed earlier, and that a heavy breakfast should ideally be followed by low calorie intake throughout the day, for maintaining the weight. The authors write that these results could benefit people who are overweight and obese, through helping them modify their diet, as currently there are conflicting views regarding the amount of calories that should be consumed in breakfast, for loss or maintenance of a healthy weight.

For More Information:
Impact of Breakfast on Daily Energy Intake – an Analysis of Absolute versus Relative Breakfast Calories
Publication Journal: Nutrition Journal, 2011
By Volker Schusdziarra; Margit Hausmann; Else-Kröner-Fresenius Center of Nutritional Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Germany

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

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