Eating Well

The Best Time To Eat Big

Basically, we all do it backwards, starting our day with a small breakfast, then having a slightly larger lunch and an even larger dinner. Wrong, wrong, wrong. A new study from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons suggests that, for those who want to keep the pounds off, the best way to go is with a big breakfast, light lunch, and very light (or no) dinner. No dinner?  The New York Times reports on the study, based on the dietary patterns of 50,000 Seventh Day Adventists over seven years. The Times reports that researchers found that “those who ate their largest meal early in the day were more likely to have a lower body mass index than those who ate a large lunch or dinner. Breakfast eaters tended to keep their weight down generally, compared with breakfast skippers. The lowest B.M.I.s were recorded in the fraction of people — about 8 percent of the total sample — who finished lunch by early afternoon and did not eat again until the next morning, fasting for 18 to 19 hours.” Researchers attribute the phenomenon to insulin, which is much more efficient in the morning. The Times quotes Dr. Satchidananda Panda, a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego: “If you give a healthy individual a big bolus of glucose in the morning, the blood glucose might stay high one or two hours before coming back to normal. Take that same normal healthy individual and give them the same bolus of glucose late at night, and now the pancreas is sleeping — literally — and cannot produce enough insulin, and blood glucose will stay high up to three hours.” Read an abstract of the study here.

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