Fat loss myths revealed: how your breakfast is starving your muscles and making you fat.
Are you familiar with the old adage: "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper?" When I was in my 20s and cranking out 50 miles per week road-running, I would follow this advice religiously.
Two decades later and this so-called healthy eating advice still persists. Yet is there any wisdom behind this saying or have we been force-fed a tasteless lie?
Well, the following research might just make you choke on your morning cereal.
Before we check out the research findings, let's first take a moment to analyze this old adage in closer detail.
We have all heard how breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We've also been warned of the dangers if you ignore it: for example, skipping breakfast can result in mood swings, a sluggish metabolism, feelings of hunger; and will likely cause your body to go into hibernation mode leaving you at the mercy of binge eating.
In short, if you skip breakfast, you are more likely to get fat.
And at first glance, the science seems to support this. Researchers at Tel Aviv University studied how changing meal-timings would impact weight loss by switching from a high calorie dinner to a high calorie breakfast. In the 12-week study, 50 overweight women were split into two groups and randomly assigned 1,400 calorie diets. The results? While both groups lost weight, the women consuming the large breakfast shed approximately 19 pounds when compared to only 8 pounds in the large dinner group.
Other weight-loss studies report similar findings. When participants eat most of their calories earlier and only small amounts later, the "earlier" group can typically expect to lose over 20% more weight.
In view of this, anyone might reasonably surmise eating more of your calories in the evening is bad and that you should never skip breakfast.
Hmm... it seems the old adage is right.
Or is it?
Things begin to go awry when we run a magnifying glass over these figures. You see, the numbers on your average bathroom scales only tell you part of the tale. What they don't do, is provide you with an accurate breakdown of where this weight-loss came from.
For that to happen, we need to determine body composition.
And here is where our story takes a curious twist: when researchers scanned body composition, they discovered the group who "breakfasted like kings" did indeed lose 20% more weight, but the group who consumed most of their calories later in the day lost 15% more fat.
What can we conclude from this?
Rather like Hans Christian Anderson's "The Emperor's New Clothes", the king in our old adage has been cruelly hoodwinked and failed to dress appropriately. You see, even though this saying will help you lose weight, it won't necessarily help you burn the most fat.
For this to occur, you should eat most of your calories later in the day.
And the best part?
This simple strategy not only encourages your body to burn more fat but will help preserve your muscle mass.
Now let's check out the real King...
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