It’s those cravings that do us in — cookies, ice cream, potato chips. The answer, however, is not to banish snacks from your home or to force yourself to resist those cravings through sheer strength of will.
The key, according to a surprising study, is to eat a big breakfast high in complex carbs and protein.
Eating a big breakfast helps us feel full and satisfied for the remainder of the day, cutting down on our urge to overeat. Any diet’s success depends on its ability to reduce the craving for carbohydrates and help a person feel satisfied, notes lead researcher Daniela Jakubowicz, M.D., of the Hospital de ClÎ¯nicas Caracas, in Venezuela. The power of big breakfasts can strip cravings of their strength while still keeping the overall calorie intake low.
The Secret of Big Breakfast
Working with researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Dr. Jakubowicz put 46 obese women on a strict low-carbohydrate diet consisting of 1,085 calories a day. This included 17 grams of carbohydrates, 51 grams of protein and 78 grams of fat. The smallest meal of the day was breakfast at 290 calories. Another group of 48 women was assigned to a 1,240-calorie-a-day diet that included 97 grams of carbohydrates, 93 grams of protein and 46 grams of fat. The kicker: They started their morning with a big, high-carb, high-protein, 610-calorie breakfast.
After four months, the women on the lower-calorie, small-breakfast diet had lost an average of 28 pounds, while the women on the higher-calorie, big-breakfast plan had lost 23 pounds. But when both groups went on the four-month maintenance phase of the diet, the results were amazing: Women in the small-breakfast group regained about 18 pounds, while women following the big-breakfast strategy continued to lose weight, shedding roughly 16 more pounds! Final score: small breakfast 10 pounds, big breakfast 39 pounds!
Why did the big-breakfast group lose more weight in the end? “The women on the big-breakfast diet reported reduced hunger, increased satiety and decreased desire to eat carbohydrates and sweets before lunch and dinner,” says VCU researcher Paulina A. Essah, M.D. In other words, eating a big breakfast helped them feel full and satisfied for the rest of the day.
Make Breakfast Work for You