The new study, published this week in Nutrition Journal by researchers from the Else-Kroner-Fresenius Center of Nutritional Medicine in Munich, asked 380 participants to keep a precise diary of everything they ate for a period of 10 to 14 days. A "big breakfast" was defined as having 400 calories more than a "small breakfast" (sic). The conclusion? "The results of the study showed that people ate the same at lunch and dinner, regardless of what they had for breakfast," says Dr. Volker Schusdziarra, main author of the study. Big breakfast eaters ended up consuming 400 calories more per day, and a big breakfast did not appear to decrease caloric intake later in the day.
This study appears to contradict the results of a 2008 study, which showed that dieters eating big breakfasts lost more weight. Why the discrepancy? The researchers for the present study point out that the previous study looked at the ratio of breakfast calories vs. total calories, but did not investigate the relationship between breakfast calories and total caloric intake. When we look at the data, however, we also notice that the present study looked at 10 to 14 days' worth of data, analyzing caloric intake only, where the previous study looked at more than 8 months of data, and correlated it with weight gain. The conclusion of the present study do not, therefore, automatically contradict those of the 2008 study. Nutrition experts continue advising people that breakfast is an important part of the daily diet, and that skipping breakfast may lead to further weight gain.
What should you make of this study? Clearly, eating a larger breakfast will not make you eat less during the day. You should watch your food intake at breakfast as you do at every other meal. But eating more of your daily calories at breakfast, everything else being equal, may still be a winning diet strategy, according to the 2008 study referenced above.
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Study Abstract in Nutrition Journal