The Big Breakfast Diet

big-breakfast health fitness diet healthhabits

A new study, out of Virginia Commonwealth University, suggests that your grandma was right!

Eat a big breakfast and you won’t be hungry for the rest of the day.

Yay Grandma!!!

The Study

The study compared a “Big Breakfast” or BB diet plan with a low carb / Atkins style diet plan.

The BB group ate 610 of their daily 1240 calories at breakfast. The macronutrient breakdown of their Big Breakfast was as follows:

  • 58 grams of carbohydrates (38% of calories)
  • 47 grams of protein (31% of calories)
  • 22 grams of fat (32% of calories)

Breakfast could be eaten in two or three stages, but had to be completed by 9 a.m.

The macronutrient breakdown for the entire day was as follows:

  • 97 grams of carbohydrates (33% of calories)
  • 93 grams of protein (32% of calories)
  • 46 grams of fat (35% of calories)

So it seems that while breakfast was a little higher in carbs and lower in fat, the rest of the day was the inverse; higher in fat and lower in carbs.

The low carb / Atkins group ate 290 of their daily 1085 calories at breakfast. The macronutrient breakdown of the low carb breakfast was as follows:

  • 7 grams of carbohydrates (10% of calories)
  • 12 grams of protein (16% of calories)
  • 24 grams of fat (my calculation) – (74% of calories)

The macronutrient breakdown for the entire day was as follows:

  • 17 grams of carbohydrates (7% of calories)
  • 51 grams of protein (21% of calories)
  • 78 grams of fat (72% of calories)

Both groups stayed on their respective weight loss diets for four months. At the end of this period, both groups shifted to a maintenance diet for an additional four months.

The Results

After four months:

  • The low carb dieters lost approximately 28 pounds
  • The BB dieters lost about 23 pounds

Both groups did well, losing between 6 and 7 pounds per month.

After eight months:

  • The low carb dieters had regained an average of 18 pounds. This produced a net loss of 10 pounds over 8 months – an average of 1 1/4 pounds per month.
  • The BB dieters lost another 16 1/2 pounds during the maintenance phase. This produced a net loss of 39 1/2 pounds – an average of 5 pounds per month.

As an added bonus, at the end of the study, the BB dieters reported that they experienced less hunger and fewer cravings for carbohydrates than the low carb group.

Conclusions

  • Please keep in mind that this is only one small study of 94 individuals. Further study is required to test the conclusions of this study. But don’t worry. Considering the huuuuuge market for diets and weight loss plans around the globe, I don’t think researchers will have to look too far or too hard for sources of research funding.
  • Dietitians and nutritionists are already criticizing this study as being too low in calories and carbohydrates.
  • Dietitians and nutritionists who make this complaint are A: Missing the point of the study and B: Protecting their own butts.
  • A – The point of the study was to test the Big Breakfast hypothesis. At this point, we don’t even know the average starting weight of the study participants, so how can the ‘experts’ claim that the calories are too low.
  • B – For the most part, dietitians and nutritionists like to push the food pyramid du jour. Lots of grains, lots of dairy, lots of political contributions from the grain and dairy lobbyists…oops.

My Recommendation

Become your own guinea pig.

One day this week, while eating normally, record everything you eat in a notebook. Record how the meals impacted your hunger and cravings. Record when you ate and what you ate.

The next day, eat the exact same foods. But, eat half of the previous day’s food at a single, extended breakfast. Keep the same record book of mealtimes, what you ate and how you felt.

I tried it yesterday, and I was extremely full after breakfast and never really got hungry the rest of the day.

Give it a try.

What do you have to lose…except a few pounds of chub-chub.

24 thoughts on “The Big Breakfast Diet

  1. Sounds like an interesting study. I like the idea of eating a big breakfast, but it does seem like these folks were eating too little throughout the day. Especially if they were doing any kind of physical activity.

    I’ve had a good amount of success with giving myself one to two cheat days a week and actually using them. Five days of the week I don’t count calories, I just watch portion size, eat lots of veggies, and drink a protein shake for one of my in between meal snacks. On my cheat days I indulge in say three slices of pizza and a soda for dinner- although I eat reasonably the rest of the day.

    The result. I’ve managed to drop about 40 lbs of fat over the last year and add on from 1/2 and inch to an inch of muscle mass in various areas of my body. I feel better than I felt back when I was 21.

    Love the blog. I’ll be back to check out your previous posts.

  2. First off, congratulations on the transformation.

    Putting on muscle and losing fat at the same time is quite an accomplishment.

    It’s obvious that you found a diet (I hate that word) that works for you.

    Do you notice a difference in muscle fullness on the weekends when your carb load is higher?

    Do you drink the protein shake post workout or strictly as a between meal snack?

    p.s. I love Freecycle as well. Makes me feel very Green.

  3. “Putting on muscle and losing fat at the same time is quite an accomplishment.”

    I actually accomplished this in two different phases. I dropped most of the fat in the first 5 months. After that I allowed myself to eat more and supplemented with some Myoplex shakes and creatine. Surprisingly, I maintained 90% of the mass I gained post-creatine.

    “Do you notice a difference in muscle fullness on the weekends when your carb load is higher?”

    I noticed a difference in my energy level, but I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference in muscle fullness. I know I look leaner the morning after a low carb day.

    “Do you drink the protein shake post workout or strictly as a between meal snack?”

    I drink it before, during, and after. Everything I’ve read says to get best results one should drink their protein shake during and post-workout. I also have a PM protein drink from GNC that has Whey and Casein protein (supposedly the later breaks down slower than Whey and helps with long term muscle recovery).

    “I love Freecycle as well. Makes me feel very Green.”

    That is nice. I primarily love that it is FREE. I just picked up a $75 dollar doll house for my daughter for free. She loves it.

  4. Another great post D.R.! Unaware of recent diet fads during my medical school training, I went through a phase of eating what one of my then colleagues referred to as the “hungry man breakfast”–which looks excactly like your photo of the big breakfast diet. Suprsingly, I didn’t seem to put on any weight and not surprisingly, I wasn’t very hungry for the rest of the day….

  5. It’s great to eat well and lose weight in the process. And it’s great to look good on the outside. My concern is that I lood good on the inside too… at the cellular level. I know I ingest sufficient processed and prepackaged foods, have a touch of stress in my life (who doesn’t?), and am exposed to some environmental pollutants all of which lead to oxidative stress at the cellular level. (I’m fighting oxidative stress to stave off the signs of aging, too.) Ideally my diet should be full of deeply colored veggies and fruits for their antioxidant qualities (to resist the “rusting” of my cells from oxidative stress on the inside), and Omega -3 and -6 fatty acids. But I don’t assume with my daily obligations affecting my eating habits, that I’m getting enough of these great foods. So I add my antioxidant and Omega-3 -6 supplements to my daily routine Cellular insurance.

    “Mac”

    http://antioxexpress.wordpress.com

    http://www.greensfirst.com/5039

  6. I should also mention that I had success in the past by simply switching dinner and breakfast around. I save the eggs, bacon, and whole wheat toast for the end of the day and enjoy a good steak and mashed sweet potatoes in the morning.

  7. Yeah the switcharoo between breakfast and dinner is usually a fairly simple way to get yourself to consume most of your carbs in the morning (when they can be put to better use).

  8. Just found this through CNN’s Health Magazine link.
    Very interesting study, confirming my grandma’s saying, too :)
    I have the experience of losing several kilograms in a month some years ago – I threw out most of bread (left a couple of whole-wheat slices for breakfast and maybe lunch), and didn’t eat after 18 hrs (except some fruit or yoghurt). Everything else was my normal, everyday-food (including sweets, meat, etc.). I’m planning go the same road again, and I’ll definitely include the Big Breakfast, too…will see what comes out of it.
    Thanks for the info!

  9. Mariana,

    Thanks for dropping by.

    It’s amazing when this sort of homespun wisdom is “validated” by modern science.

    Grandma was way ahead of her time.

  10. Was this study ever published in a peer-reviewed journal? At the time of the article, this was a poster presentation.

  11. You’re retarded. The atkins diet was under 1200 calories which means you’re body goes into starvation mode and store fat. Duh.

  12. Over at HealthyFellow.com, he recently cited a number of articles espousing the pros and cons, but mostly pros, of a big breakfast, coming to much the same conclusion as you did. For the commenters who want more ‘evidence’ try that post (with links): http://www.healthyfellow.com/791/breakfast-controversy/

    I can see the benefits, but in my opinion, you have to choose whatever works best for your body and your routine. Just like Doug said, test it out on your body and see what fits you.

  13. I’ve been reading you for a bit now, and I really love that you’re always checking out new research and stuff! Thanks a lot!

    Also, was wondering, I don’t go to the gym and I only have a kettle bell (2 actually, one 12kg and one 3kg) and I enjoy doing body weight workouts. Was wondering if you’d suggest a routine for home workouts, as all your workouts involve gym equipments!

    Still, thanks for this article, am going to try it out!

  14. Pingback: Protein at Breakfast Reduces Hunger & Prevents Overeating / ProMed Personal Care
  15. I am completely against the BB idea! It is very unhealthy to have one meal a day even if its breakfast. First of all, how long can you go on a such diet?! Secondly, to boost your metabolism you have to eat small portions (nutritious food obviously)but often. That is the way to burn fat and maintain a healthy diet for life!

    1. @JK

      The BB diet recommends that breakfast is your largest meal of the day…not your only meal of the day.

  16. Hmm it’s interesting that they are attacking this study. For a weight loss study 39 pounds lost on average is huge!!! Actually, it’s huge regardless.

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