The Best Meal Strategy for Weight Loss

New research weighs in

So you’re interested in dropping some pounds. Maybe you should take this pop quiz first: What’s the smartest meal strategy for you to adopt?

A. Big breakfast, small lunch, smaller dinner
B. Small breakfast, bigger lunch, big dinner
C. Skip most meals and eat as little as you possibly can

If you chose option A—ding, ding, ding, ding!—you’re right on the money, although it’s the exact opposite of the way most Americans eat. According to the Wall Street Journal, a recent study at Tel Aviv University in Israel assigned overweight women to spend three months on a 1,400-calorie-a-day diet. Half the participants consumed 50 percent of those calories at breakfast, with the remainder split into 36 percent at lunch and 14 percent for dinner. The other half got calories in the opposite order: 14 percent for breakfast, 36 percent for lunch and 50 percent at dinner.

Over the course of the study, the big-breakfast group dropped an average of 19.1 pounds, compared to 7.9 pounds for the big-dinner eaters. Body-mass-index losses were similarly proportioned, with big-breakfast eaters losing 10 percent of body mass and big-dinner eaters losing only five percent. And when it came to levels of triglycerides, glucose, insulin and ghrelin, though levels decreased in both groups, big-breakfast eaters showed bigger drop-offs. Total cholesterol levels fell for both, but levels of HDL—the “good” cholesterol—only rose significantly among the big-breakfast eaters.

So, yeah, it may be a pain to get up a little earlier to make yourself a decent breakfast. But focusing on the fact that it will improve your health and double the amount of weight you lose should make it easier.

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