- According to a published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, a big breakfast can give your metabolism more of a boost than if you’d eaten a small breakfast or nothing at all.
- This is because your body’s absorption of , fats, and proteins might be faster in the morning.
You’ve heard time and time again that is the most important meal of the day. Still, there have been plenty of times in your life when you’ve skipped it— maybe you woke up late and had to rush out the door, or maybe you simply . But new research out of Germany proves that the old adage rings true: Making time for a hearty breakfast in the morning can give your metabolism more of a boost than if you’d eaten a small breakfast or nothing at all.
In the , published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, each of the 16 male participants in their early 20s either ate a high-calorie or low-calorie breakfast at 9 a.m.—two hours after they woke up—for three days. About two weeks later, the men switched, so those who ate the low-calorie breakfast two weeks prior ate the high-calorie breakfast the second time around, and vice versa.
“We defined low-calorie meals as 11 percent of the individual daily energy requirement and high-calorie meals as 69 percent of the individual daily energy requirement—each adapted to the individual study participant,” Juliane Richter, M.Sc., Ph.D., lead study author and neurobiologist at the University of Lubeck, told Runner’s World.
The low-calorie meals, which contained an average of 250 calories, included two slices of crispbread (which has a similar texture to a whole-grain cracker) with cream cheese, yogurt, a cucumber, and a nectarine. The high-calorie meals, which averaged 997 calories, included two slices of crispbread with a berry compote, custard sauce, butter, cream cheese, yogurt, and cucumber.
Participants also ate lunch at 2 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.—4.5 hours before they were instructed to go to sleep. Calorimetric measurements and blood samples were taken before and after each meal.
Here’s what Richter and her colleagues found: —your body’s process of producing energy as a result of food consumed—was 2.5 times higher when participants ate a high-calorie breakfast and a low-calorie dinner than the reverse. This shows that “breakfast has a more efficient energetic value for our body than ,” the study states, meaning it’s important to eat it every day. The researchers did note that when participants ate low-calorie breakfasts, they reported being hungry earlier in the day and craved more .
While Richter acknowledges that more research needs to be done to better understand the reason behind the study’s results, it could be because “gastric emptying and the absorption of , , and might be faster in the morning than in the evening—energy metabolism seems to keep pace with someone’s ,” she said.
And although this was a very small study, previous research backs the idea that breakfast is very beneficial. For instance, a published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism found that eating breakfast fuels your workouts and therefore improve your endurance performance.
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The bottom line? It doesn’t really matter when you eat breakfast, as long as you eat it at some point. There is no scientific evidence on the optimal timing for breakfast, according to Richter.
“People differ,” she said. “There are those who are hungry immediately after getting up and then have to eat something promptly, and there are those who have after getting up and wait for two to three hours until their first hunger appears. It is therefore better to listen to your body rather than to follow strict time rules regarding the timing of breakfast.”
She emphasizes the value of not waiting until lunchtime to have your first meal.
“What is most important to us is that people have breakfast at all,” Richter said. “Eat something [you] like and take time to enjoy.”