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French toast.

August 23, 2017

Splurging on an extravagant breakfast can have its weight-loss perks, study suggests

Maybe loading up on brunch isn't a terrible idea after all

How do you feel about brunch? Whether you search high and low for bottomless deals throughout Philadelphia or you crave a hearty breakfast sandwich to kick-start your morning every single day, new research gives hope to those who name breakfast (or brunch) as their favorite part of the day.

In a study reviewing the diets of 50,000 adults for seven years, researchers found that, on average, those consuming their largest meals earlier in the day had a lower body mass index than those who ate a larger lunch or dinner.

There are many more specifics needed to draw concrete conclusions from the study, especially because the adults who participated were all Seventh-day Adventists, many of whom have dietary specifications not representative of the adult population at large. For example, most of the participants already abstained from alcohol, and a good portion – about half – of them were also vegetarian.

Nonetheless, the findings give a new dynamic for regarding breakfast as the most important meal of the day.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, also found evidence that speaks to the benefits of mindful fasting. In this case, the study suggests there could be some benefits to not only starting the day with your largest meal but also in tapering off food consumption and undergoing a fast starting in the early afternoon, after lunch, until the next day.

Essentially, the findings point to eating habits that could completely restructure the way we organize our mealtimes and consumption.

“It seems our bodies are built to feast and fast,” Dr. Hana Kahleova, one of the authors of the study, told The New York Times. “It needs some regular cycling between having food intake and fasting. This seems to be hard-wired.”

Several other studies highlighting the pitfalls that come from consuming meals late in the day have already been circulating for years, including a 2009 study from Northwestern asserting that calories consumed late at night are more likely to be stored as fat. 

Outside the realm of weight gain, late-night eating has also been associated with heart disease, risk for stroke and, most recently, potential for skin damage.

In a 2013 study from the Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv, obese and overweight women were told to eat 1,400 calories a day, with half of them consuming a 700-calorie breakfast, 500-calorie lunch and 200-calorie dinner. The other half ate in the reverse order. Twelve weeks later, the first group had lost more than two and a half times more weight than the second group.

Though all these findings are far from conclusive, it seems it's worth trying to curb your late-night food cravings and wait until morning when all those calories won't do quite as much damage.