There’s a new reason to eat breakfast—and to make it a big one. Eating half your daily calories in the morning might help you lose weight more efficiently, according to new Israeli research published in the journal Obesity.
For the 12-week study, 74 women ate 1,400-calorie daily diets containing identical amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. One group ate 700 calories—including a chocolate bar—at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch, and 200 calories at dinner. The other group ate 200 calories at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch, and 700 calories at dinner.
By the end of the study, the large-breakfast group had lost two and a half times more weight and 4.6 more inches from their waists than the women who ate their largest meals in the evening. But it gets better: The big-breakfast eaters also had lower levels of bad cholesterol and higher levels of good cholesterol—not to mention improved insulin sensitivity. What’s more, they also reported feeling less hungry and more satisfied.
Why Big Breakfasts Boost Weight Loss
Previous research suggests that your metabolism works most efficiently early in the day, so your body is less likely to store food as fat when you eat it in the morning, says lead study author Daniela Jakubowicz M.D., a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.
But that doesn’t mean that starting your day with a 700-calorie Cronut will automatically help you lose weight. Instead, shoot for a large, balanced meal that’s high in protein—like eggs, yogurt, or lean meat—to fend off hunger. And if you feel the urge, go ahead and end your meal with something sweet; Jakubowicz says this can decrease carb cravings later in the day. You’ll also want to make sure to make your lunch smaller and eat the fewest number of calories at dinner to really see weight-loss results.
Put the Strategy Into Play
Need some AM inspiration? Try one of these super-filling breakfasts.
*This story was originally published on WomensHealth.com.