We have talked about in previous posts how the body always wants to maintain homeostasis.  On a calorie restricted diet it does this through metabolic changes including reduced energy expenditure and increased hunger and cravings.  Ghrelin the hunger hormone produced by the hypothalamus is also increased.  Together this moves the body into consuming more calories to return to homestasis.  Surprisingly, these alterations to the body persist for up to a year after first going on the diet.   How does meal timing and meal composition affect dieting?


Meal Composition

Studies have shown that the macro nutrient composition of our food can be a way to reduce hunger and promote satiety.  In particular eating protein for breakfast has the most satiety impacting ghrelin levels the most.  But even more so when it is coupled with a carb.  Having that carb for breakfast has been shown to decrease the cravings for breads, carbs and fast food later in the day.

In one study, healthy, overweight or obese participants on a calorie restricted diet were divided into two groups.  One receiving a high-carb, protein enriched breakfast and the second, a low-carb, low calorie breakfast.  Cravings for sweets and fast food were greater in the low carb breakfast group than the high carb breakfast group over the 16 weeks.  Ghrelin levels were also reduced.


Hi Carb Protein Rich Breakfasts Lose Weight

Over the 16 weeks both groups lost a significant amount of weight.  However it was in the follow up post diet that is the most interesting.  The participants in the low-carb breakfast group regained weight.  However, the high-carb, protein enriched breakfast group continued to lose weight.  The researchers speculate that this result comes from the low calorie diet with a low carb breakfast cannot be maintained long term.



What does this mean for people trying to lose weight for health?  Eating a healthy breakfast can help with satiety and cravings throughout the day.       



Daniela Jakubowicza, Oren Froyb, Julio Wainsteina, Mona Boazcd, ‘Meal timing and composition influence ghrelin levels, appetite scores and weight loss maintenance in overweight and obese adults’ Steroids Volume 77, Issue 4, 10 March 2012, Pages 323-331

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