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Rise and Dine . . . and Burn!

The old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day still rings true, study suggests.

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Breakfast before training

Here’s news that will please oatmeal lovers: Making time for a hearty morning meal may boost daily calorie burn, say German researchers.

In a blind crossover study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 16 men of normal weight consumed a low-calorie breakfast (11% of their daily calorie requirement) and high-calorie dinner (69% of their overall calorie needs) in one 3-day test. Then they did the opposite in another test of equal length.

Using indirect calorimetry, the researchers found that energy dissipated as heat after a meal (known in research lingo as “diet-induced thermogenesis”) was 2.5 times higher for breakfast than it was for dinner in both the low- and high-calorie scenarios.

Food eaten in the morning also caused a much lower rise in blood sugar and insulin. What’s more, choosing a low-calorie breakfast left people hungrier for sweets the rest of the day compared with eating more morning calories.

We don’t yet know if these differences in calorie burn and appetite for sweet stuff are enough to induce weight loss or if the same results would occur in women. But this study does nudge us toward the idea that dietary interventions for people wishing to lose body weight might be wise to encourage eating a more substantial breakfast and a lighter dinner.

See also: A Case for Carbs Before Morning Training

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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