Accord­ing to a new study from the Rowet Insti­tute in Aberdeen, a hearty break­fast and a small din­ner is not the best way to lose weight.

A study of over­weight peo­ple found that they burned the same num­ber of calo­ries regard­less of when they ate their largest meal of the day. This sug­gests that the old weight loss adage “eat break­fast your­self, share lunch with a friend, give din­ner to the ene­my” is a myth.

The idea behind the say­ing was that load­ing calo­ries in the morn­ing gives our bod­ies more time to burn them through­out the day. To test the the­o­ry, the researchers put 30 obese or over­weight men and women on two sep­a­rate diets, each last­ing a month.

On the first diet, they ate most of their calo­ries in the morn­ing, while on the sec­ond diet, they ate the most in the evening. There was no dif­fer­ence in ener­gy burned or weight lost between the diets. With both meal plans, par­tic­i­pants lost an aver­age of 3 kg.

How­ev­er, after eat­ing a hearty break­fast, they report­ed feel­ing less hun­gry through­out the day. This sug­gests that a hearty break­fast may still be a good strat­e­gy for weight watch­ers. Lead author Pro­fes­sor Alexan­dra John­ston said: “The advice to eat a hearty break­fast is one of the many myths about how to lose weight by burn­ing calo­ries. Calo­ries are burned in the same way, regard­less of the time of day. How­ev­er, a large break­fast makes peo­ple less hun­gry, so they can lose weight that way.”

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