“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”. This famous saying has some truth, but only a little bit. Research published in a scientific journal cellular metabolism found out that a hearty breakfast as the main meal of the day helps to reduce hunger but, contrary to popular belief, it does not serve to burn calories more efficiently and quickly.

Eating the biggest meal of the day in the morning and having light meals in the evening is one of the nutritional advice more extended. The explanation is that during the day the body has more time to burn excess calories, so a hearty breakfast would have less impact on the hips than a hearty dinner. But,is this statement correct?

A team of scientists led by Professor Alexandra Johnstone of the Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen, in collaboration with Professor Jonathan Johnston of the University of Surrey, found that energy is used similarly regardless of when calories are consumed. The results of the research, funded by the Medical Research Council, challenges previous studies that suggested “afternoon eaters” are more likely to gain weight and less able to lose it.

Thus, according to their findings, Whether a person eats their biggest meal early or late does not affect how the body metabolizes calories. However, the study indicates that those who ate breakfast as their main meal reported feeling less hungry afterwards, which could facilitate weight loss.

For work, the researchers recruited 16 healthy overweight or obese men and 14 women to monitor their diets and measure their metabolisms. Each participant was randomly assigned a rich diet in the morning or a rich diet in the evening for four weeks. The diets were isocaloric, with a balance of 30% protein, 35% carbohydrate and 35% fat.

In general, the researchers found that energy expenditure and total weight loss were the same on morning and evening loading diets. Thus, according to the results, the participants lost on average just over 3kg during each of the four-week periods.

“This study challenges the previous belief that eating at different times of the day leads to different energy expenditure. Research shows that, under conditions of weight loss, there is no ideal time to eat for weight control, and this change in body weight is determined by energy balance”, says Professor Johnstone. However, he points out, “We know that appetite control is important for achieving weight loss, and our study suggests that those who ate more calories in the morning were less hungry than those who ate more calories in the evening.” .

“It is a important finding for the field of research on meal times (chrononutrition). Many aspects of human biology change throughout the day and we are beginning to understand how this interacts with food intake. Our new research demonstrates that under conditions of weight loss, The size of breakfast and dinner regulates our appetite, but not the total amount of energy our body uses.” concludes the expert.