Eat a Big Breakfast for Greater Diet-Induced Thermogenesis

Weight loss is an interesting topic these days. For some, bringing up the topics of keto, intermittent fasting, plant-based or some other popular nutritional topic of the day leads to heated discussions.

Unfortunately, some conversations are prefaced with ‘I believe…’ and then whatever nutritional opinion follows. Emotions can become so strong with nutrition that facts and evidence get thrown out the window. And positions can be maintained as though defending a religious perspective.

When discussing weight loss there are two predominant positions popping up on social media. One supposes that creating a caloric deficit is all that matters. You can eat fast food every day as long as you are eating fewer calories than you burn in a day. This ignores what the other position claims is vital, which is the quality of the nutrition.

Maybe you’ve heard the expression ‘as long as it fits your macros’ to justify eating certain foods. By macros we’re referring to the macronutrients i.e. proteins, carbs and fats.

The truth is that both sides are correct. It matters how much you eat. A caloric deficit is needed to achieve weight loss. And the quality of the matters as well. You cannot achieve healthy weight loss with low quality nutrition..

But there’s one more piece to the puzzle that typically tends to get ignored. And that’s the timing of our nutrition.

In other words, would you expect eating the same foods in the same amounts at different times to have an impact on our weight loss efforts?

For example, if you ate a 2070 calorie breakfast, a 600 calorie lunch and a 330 calorie dinner…

Would this have any difference on our fat loss efforts than if we ate the following:

330 calorie breakfast, 600 calorie lunch, 2070 calorie dinner.

The answer is that it does make a difference.

A recent study looked at whether there was a difference in thermogenesis based on whether a larger breakfast or large dinner was eaten.

16 normal weight men ate either a large breakfast equivalent to 69% of daily calories or a small dinner of 11% of daily calories. In the example above I used 3000 calories to represent total daily intake, 11% equaled 330 calories and 69% equaled 2070 calories. The participants of the study ate the big breakfast or big dinner for three days. They then followed the opposite protocol of what they did for the first three days i.e. if they ate a big breakfast in the first part they ate a big dinner in the second part.

So what did they find?

Diet-induced thermogenesis was 2.5 higher following the big breakfast compared to the big dinner.

Does this really matter?

It can definitely make a difference. When we are seeking a weight loss goal we want to know how many calories we expend in a day. The total is a combination of our basal metabolic rate (70%), our non-exercise activity thermogenesis (15%), our exercise (5%) and the foods we eat (10%). The percentages listed are averages and will vary based on age, sex, level of obesity, which foods we eat and more.

Total daily energy expenditure – Basal metabolic rate (BMR), thermic effect of feeding (TEF), non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) and exercise.

The foods we eat can be responsible for 10% of the total energy we burn in a day. If someone is burning 2500 calories per day than the food we eat, digest and metabolize could be responsible for 250 of these calories. This study found that those that ate a bigger breakfast had 2.5 times the diet-induced thermogenesis. In other words, if breakfast normally accounted for 100 calorie burned this could be pushed up to 250 calories. For someone looking to create a 300-400 calorie deficit per day this is huge.

It get better.

When subjects ate a bigger breakfast compared to a small, hypo-caloric meal they were less hungry during the day and had less cravings for sweets. This is very important when seeking a weight loss goal as there will be less temptation to grab a treat or eat more than is needed for health.

One way we’ve thought about this in the past was to eat like a king, then a prince then a pauper in terms of calories. So early in the day eat the bulk of your calories and gradually reduce these as the day progresses. And for the best results make sure to eat the best quality foods you can at each meal.


Richter J. et al. 2020. Twice as High Diet-Induced Thermogenesis After Breakfast vs Dinner on High-Calorie as Well as Low-Calories Meals. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 105(3).


Fitness Trackers – Are They For You?

How do you track your training sessions? At worst I’m hoping you have a notebook to record your loads, weights, reps, sets, rest breaks etc and be able to refer to this information from one workout to the next.

Putting the Brakes on Your Metabolism

Since we know how the body burns calories it would also make sense to understand what puts the breaks on our ability to burn calories. Or in other words what slows down our metabolism?

How the body burns calories

In the last post I talked about the fact that for optimal health and weight loss we can’t simply worry about reducing our sugar intake. As well, we can’t simply focus on creating a caloric deficit. Both of these need to be addressed in order for healthy weight loss to occur.

The calories v. sugar debate

So recently on the interwebs there was a bit of discussion on a social network about the importance of sugar in the diet. Actually it was more than just a discussion as some members took to mocking the other side who then responded to blocking the immature commenter from their profile.

8 Steps for Weight Loss – Where hCG Fits In

Last week I introduced some of you to the hCG Diet. And a few of you were already familiar with it which is good. In fact one of you replied with what your experiences with it had been.

Exactly how many calories does (xxx) workout burn?

Hi there: I hope you had a great Hallowe’en weekend. It’s such a great time of year to be able to let loose and be a kid again for a night. And possibly the next morning if you promise to wear your costume the following Saturday AM for a stairs workout. Looking back this probably wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve decided to do but I did it and hopefully it lightened the mood for those that came out for the workout and helped them work a little harder. Below you can see a picture of Wonder Woman, Les Grossman and Kat Von D.

I’ve got some video footage from the Saturday morning workout and will try to work that into a future post.

Switching gears here a little bit I want to let you of a device I’m testing out. It’s called a BodyBugg and it measures you caloric expenditure. You wear it around your left arm and it records how many calories you expend during day.

Now some people will be thinking ‘I have a heart rate monitor that tracks my calories so how is this any different?’

True, a heart rate monitor provides an estimation on calories burned but it isn’t very accurate. Basically the caloric measurement from a heart rate monitor correlates to how many calories would typically be burned at a particular heart rate.

So first of all we realize this is an estimation and therefore is not a totally accurate method of tracking your calories. But secondly your heart rate monitor has no way of detecting whether an increased heart rate is due to physical exertion or a hightened emotional state. For example if you wore your heart rate monitor to a scary movie you might get a number of spikes during the frightening scenes of the movie. And your heart rate monitor would calculate these spikes as physical work being done and calories burned. But sitting on your butt for 2 hours watching a movie doesn’t burn a lot of calories. Actually when you consider the barrel of popcorn and huge pop most people drink at the movies there probably is a caloric surplus after the movie rather than any type of deficit as represented by the heart rate monitor.

So how does the BodyBugg do this? Well it has four different sensors to measure caloric expenditure. And if one sensor detects caloric expenditure but the other three do not it doesn’t count that initial reading. According to the manufacturers this results in the device having 95% accuracy of a clinical measurement.

But why is this important? Well for a number of reasons including:

* If our goal is weight loss we’ll know whether we have achieved a deficit or not.

* We’ll be able to quantify various type of workouts for effectiveness. How does one hour of a particular type of exercise compare to other types?

* It makes us more accountable. Just as writing down our goals leads to a great chance of success so too does having true numbers to record and measure keep us more on track and focussed.

I’ll provide more details and some video of the BodyBugg in days to come. There is also an online food diary component that I’ll review as well.

Have a great week.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                      ‘always moving forward’