As more and more numbers of people join the fight against the bulge, the secret to being slim and trim may begin with the first meal of the day - Breakfast , says a novel insight.
The study, conducted by Dr Daniela Jakubowicz from Virginia Commonwealth University, found that women who eat half of their daily calories first thing in the morning lose more weight in the long term than those who start the day with a small breakfast.
AdvertisementFor the study, researchers compared the 'big breakfast' diet with a strict low-carb weight-loss regime.
The study was conducted with 96 obese and physically inactive women.
The low-carb diet involved 1,085 calories a day - the majority of these coming from protein and fat.
Breakfast here was the smallest meal of the day - just 290 calories, with just seven grams of carbohydrates.
Jakubowicz's 'big breakfast' diet involved more calories - 1,240 - with a lower proportion of fat and more carbohydrates and protein.
Breakfast here was 610 calories, with 58 grams of carbohydrates, while lunch and dinner were 395 and 235 calories respectively.
After four months, the strict low-carb diet caused an average weight loss of 28 pounds; the big-breakfast version cut 23 pounds.
However, eight months later, the situation reversed, with the low-carb dieters putting an average of 18 of those pounds back on, while the big breakfasters continued to lose weight, on average 16.5 pounds each.
They lost a fifth of their total body weight on average, as compared to less than 5 percent for the low-carb dieters.
Jakubowicz reported that the big breakfasters said they felt less hungry, particularly in the mornings.
"Most weight loss studies have determined that a very low carbohydrate diet is not a good method to reduce weight," BBC quoted her, as saying.
"It exacerbates the craving for carbohydrates and slows metabolism - as a result, after a short period of weight loss, there is a quick return to obesity," she added.
Jakubowicz said that the bigger breakfast helped by making people feel fuller during the day, and was healthier, because it allowed more fibre and fruit to be included.
A spokesman for the British Nutrition Foundation said that there was evidence that a king-size breakfast could help dieters.
"Research shows that eating breakfast can actually help people control their weight," she said.
"This is probably because when we don't have breakfast we're more likely to get hungry before lunch and snack on foods that are high in fat and sugar, such as biscuits, doughnuts or pastries," she added.
The findings were presented at a San Francisco conference.