“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”
It’s likely you’ve heard this statement before. Results from a new study add additional support for the idea that this might be the way the human body was designed to eat.
Bigger dinners may increase risk of metabolic disease
Researchers analyzed data from the NHANES nutrition survey, specifically from almost 4700 people with diabetes. Based on food recall questionnaires performed on 2 separate occasions, they broke people into 5 groups based on the amount of food eaten at dinner compared with breakfast.
What they found was that compared with the group the ate the least at dinner, the group that ate the most had an increased risk of diabetes-related mortality (1.9 times greater risk) and heart disease-related mortality (1.7 times).
The authors of the study also created risk models based on their data, and concluded that:
- Moving 5% of energy intake from dinner to breakfast could reduce the risk of diabetes-related and heart disease-related mortality by 4-5%
- Moving 5% of protein intake from dinner to breakfast could reduce these same risks by 9-12%
Notice the reduce risks here didn’t require cutting down on calories, simply moving calories from dinner to breakfast.
Of course this type of observational research doesn’t allow for firm conclusions about cause and effect, but nonetheless I think the findings are quite interesting. They do align with another study suggesting eating later in the day compared with earlier delays fat burning.
I don’t know about you, but eating less in the evening is not an easy task for me. Often when I get busy during the day, I’m not focused on eating and I don’t feel hungry. But something switches in the evening and the hunger signal gets turned on. Can you say, “Hello, munchies”?
If this resonates with you, I thought I’d leave you with 3 tips you can try to help yourself shut down the food consumption at night:
- Focus on food quality. Eating nutritious and filling foods during the daytime, especially quality protein and fiber, can help you to feel less hungry after dinner. Remember the first part of the equation was to eat breakfast like a king.
- Move away from the kitchen. Break up your usual after dinner routine so that you’re not running the same patterns in your brain. Simply changing location in the evening can help you establish a different routine and establish a new pattern.
- Brush your teeth. Call this a hack, but brushing your teeth at 7 pm can signal your brain that you’re done eating, and provide enough incentive to help you stay on track.
To summarize, your health and metabolism are likely to benefit if you try to eat a greater percentage of your daily calorie intake in the morning.
I hope you have a great week.
Dr. Topher Fox
P.S. Free training for living with a healthy lifestyle, especially for folks with diabetes and prediabetes, is available on Facebook at Dr. Topher Fox