12 September 2022

The old rule was canceled

Nutritionists allowed not to give dinner to the enemy

Polina Grebenkina, N+1

Nutritionists from the UK and the Netherlands found out that the number of kilograms dropped does not depend on the distribution of calories during the day. In the experiment, the subjects ate according to two systems: one ate more in the morning, the second — in the evening, while both groups received the same amount of calories and macronutrients. It turned out that regardless of the type of diet, the study participants lost weight the same way. The results are published in Cell Metabolism (Ruddick-Collins et al., Timing of daily calorie loading affects appetite and hunger responses without changes in energy metabolism in healthy subjects with obesity).

According to the data The Ministry of Health, most of the Russian population (62 percent) is overweight, and 26.2 percent of compatriots suffer from obesity. These conditions increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

To reduce body weight, first of all, doctors recommend adjusting the diet and devoting more time to physical exercises, that is, to engage in non-drug therapy. An important condition is to reduce the number of calories consumed by losing weight. However, until now it was not clear exactly how to distribute meals over time. Moreover, there is a widespread belief that it is worth eating less in the evening, compensating for this with a hearty breakfast.

Alexandra M. Johnstone from the University of Aberdeen, together with colleagues, compared what happened to people in two groups with different types of nutrition. All participants ate three meals a day, but in the first, "morning" group, volunteers (16 people) received more calories for breakfast (45 percent:35 percent:20 percent of the daily intake), and in the "evening" (14 people), on the contrary, received the most high-calorie meal in the evening (20 percent:35 percent:45 percent of the norm). Four weeks later, the groups switched places.

Before the experiment, the volunteers were screened: they donated blood, the scientists weighed them and found out their height — all had a body mass index corresponding to obesity. The study participants also measured their resting metabolic rate. The latter is an important parameter, it reflects how much energy the body needs per day to function. Based on the obtained value, each subject was calculated their own norm of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.


A week before the study, the subjects underwent primary screening and ate the same (Baseline). Then they were divided into two groups: morning (ML) and evening (EL). After four weeks, they took a break to conduct tests. After a week of the same nutrition (Without), the experiment was started again, but the groups changed places. After another four weeks, tests were carried out again, but control ones. Drawings from the article by Ruddick-Collins et al.

Each of the morning group meals contained 29.7 percent protein, 34.2 percent carbohydrates and 34.7 percent fat. For the evening, the nutrients were distributed in the proportion of 29.8:34.0:34.8. This was the ideal plan, but in the process it turned out that it was difficult for the study participants to master the most caloric intake, something was left uneaten, so in fact the morning group ate according to the scheme 38.4: 35.4: 26.2, and the evening 26.3:35.3:38.4.


At the end of the experiment, it turned out that the subjects in both groups dropped about the same: 3.33 kilograms in the morning group versus 3.38 kilograms in the evening group (p=0.848).


Resting metabolic rate (RMR) did not differ between the groups. But the RMR decreased significantly relative to the beginning of the experiment. The authors of the study attribute this to weight loss.

In the morning group, volunteers were less likely to report feeling hungry compared to the evening group. This observation prompted the authors to check the fullness of the stomach. A substance with a carbon isotope was placed in the volunteers' breakfast. Before eating, then for six hours after eating, the volunteers exhaled into a tube. According to the isotope content in exhaled carbon dioxide, the time spent on half a meal to empty the stomach was calculated. In the evening group, on average, this time was 4:23 hours versus more than 6:25 hours for the morning group (p<0.001).

It also turned out that both diets led to an increase in glucose sensitivity, a decrease in glycemia and insulin levels. The level of total cholesterol decreased in all subjects. The authors of the study associate the detected changes not with a specific diet, but with a general decrease in body weight.

Although the work shows that weight loss is not affected by the choice of a hearty breakfast or dinner, the authors suggest using the results of the study when compiling a diet. They suggest that the consumption of the most high-calorie food in the morning will still contribute to weight loss by reducing appetite.

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