Breakfast Like a King

March 16th, 2020 | Posted in Info

We’ve all heard the expression “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and eat dinner like a pauper”. Well, there may be some wisdom behind this old saying.

It’s well known that whether we lose weight, gain weight or maintain our weight is largely determined by how much we eat, what we eat and how much exercise we do. It turns out that another factor plays a part as well. WHEN we eat also has a role in determining whether the calories are burnt for energy or stored.

After eating the digestion, absorption, transport and storage of nutrients all use up energy or calories. This is known as diet induced thermogenesis. In other words, eating food gets the metabolism going and burns calories.

Research from Germany has found that a meal eaten at breakfast, regardless of how many calories it contains, creates more than double the diet induced thermogenesis as the same meal in the evening. This means that more of the calories in the meal eaten in the morning are immediately used up by the metabolism, rather than being stored on the body.

The research was done on 16 men who consumed a low calorie breakfast and a high calorie dinner in the first part of the study. This was then reversed and a high calorie breakfast was eaten followed by a low calorie dinner in the evening. Even though the calorie consumption was identical for the high calorie breakfast and the high calorie dinner and the overnight fast was the same length, the diet induced thermogenesis was way higher after breakfast than after the evening meal.

The rise in blood sugar and insulin was also much lower after the meal at breakfast than after the same meal at dinner. Eating a low calorie breakfast also increased appetite, specifically for sweets. Definitely not a desirable side effect.

The Circadian Rhythm

Our circadian rhythm regulates how food is metabolized; whether the body burns fats or carbohydrates for energy depends on the time of day or night. The circadian rhythm has programmed the body to burn fat when we sleep, but eating a large meal in the evening delays the usual night time fat burning.


The researchers recommend eating a big breakfast rather than a large dinner to reduce body weight and prevent metabolic diseases. For proven strategies that lead to long term weight loss read the blog post Weight Loss Strategies that Last, and if you, or anyone you know, is considering the keto diet read the post Keto Diet – Short Term Only before you set off down that path.


1. Oltmanns KM et al. Twice as High Diet-Induced Thermogenesis After Breakfast vs Dinner On High-Calorie as Well as Low-Calorie Meals. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2020; 105 (3)