Bacon or Bagels? Higher Fat at Breakfast May Be Healthier Than You Think
age-old maxim "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and
dinner like a pauper" may in fact be the best advice to follow to
prevent metabolic syndrome, according to a new University of Alabama at
Birmingham (UAB) study.
syndrome is characterized by abdominal obesity, high triglycerides,
insulin resistance and other cardiovascular disease-risk factors.
study, published online March 30 in the International Journal of
Obesity, examined the influence exerted by the type of foods and
specific timing of intake on the development of metabolic syndrome
characteristics in mice. The UAB research revealed that mice fed a meal
higher in fat after waking had normal metabolic profiles. In contrast,
mice that ate a more carbohydrate-rich diet in the morning and consumed
a high-fat meal at the end of the day saw increased weight gain,
adiposity, glucose intolerance and other markers of the metabolic
have looked at the type and quantity of food intake, but nobody has
undertaken the question of whether the timing of what you eat and when
you eat it influences body weight, even though we know sleep and
altered circadian rhythms influence body weight," said the study's lead
author Molly Bray, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology in the UAB School
of Public Health.
said the research team found that fat intake at the time of waking
seems to turn on fat metabolism very efficiently and also turns on the
animal's ability to respond to different types of food later in the
day. When the animals were fed carbohydrates upon waking, carbohydrate
metabolism was turned on and seemed to stay on even when the animal was
eating different kinds of food later in the day.
first meal you have appears to program your metabolism for the rest of
the day," said study senior author Martin Young, Ph.D., associate
professor of medicine in the UAB Division of Cardiovascular Disease.
"This study suggests that if you ate a carbohydrate-rich breakfast it
would promote carbohydrate utilization throughout the rest of the day,
whereas, if you have a fat-rich breakfast, you have metabolic
plasticity to transfer your energy utilization between carbohydrate and
and Young said the implications of this research are important for
human dietaryrecommendations. Humans rarely eat a uniform diet
throughout the day and need the ability to respond to alterations in
diet quality. Adjusting dietary composition of a given meal is an
important component in energy balance, and they said their findings
suggest that recommendations for weight reduction and/or maintenance
should include information about the timing of dietary intake plus the
quality and quantity of intake.
eat a mixed diet, and our study, which we have repeated four times in
animals, seems to show that if you really want to be able to
efficiently respond to mixed meals across a day then a meal in higher
fat content in the morning is a good thing," Bray said. "Another
important component of our study is that, at the end of the day, the
mice ate a low-caloric density meal, and we think that combination is
key to the health benefits we've seen."
and Young said further research needs to test whether similar
observations are made with different types of dietary fats and
carbohydrates, and it needs to be tested in humans to see if the
findings are similar between rodents and humans.
"We're also working on a study right now to determine if these feeding regimens adversely affect heart function," Young said.
For more information on the University of Alabama at Birmingham, visit www.uab.edu.