Results of Bath Breakfast Project revealed
Researchers at the University of Bath have conducted the first ever randomised controlled trial to examine the effect of regular daily breakfast when compared with extended morning fasting, to measure all components of energy balance.
Contrary to popular belief, they found little impact on snacking or portion sizes later in the day and no evidence whatsoever of any change in resting metabolism. However, they did find that that those eating breakfast are likely to expend more energy during daily physical activities.
The findings, published today (Thursday 5 June) in the leading nutrition journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, are part of the Bath Breakfast Project, a randomised controlled trial funded by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
As part of the three-year study, the team at Bath randomly allocated people aged between 21 and 60 years into either a ‘fasting group’ – who consumed no calories until lunchtime (12:00) everyday for six weeks – and a ‘breakfast group’ – prescribed at least 700 kcal by 11:00 daily for six weeks, with at least the first half consumed within two hours of waking.
Principal Investigator Dr James Betts from the University’s Department for Health explained:
One key novel aspect of the experiment was the use of portable monitors to accurately measure participants’ daily activities. Co-author Dr Dylan Thompson commented:
Commenting on other research findings, Enhad Chowdhury added:
Through the study, the fasting group consumed around 20 per cent less energy than the breakfast group overall each day, indicating that they did not compensate for the energy missed at breakfast by eating more later on.
For Enhad Chowdhury:
Finally, the study reports no negative cardiovascular effects of fasting until midday everyday for six weeks, but some interesting effects on metabolic control.
Dr Judith Richardson who managed the trial noted:
These molecular assessments were complemented by data from a portable device that measured glucose levels, which revealed less tightly regulated glucose control during the afternoon and evening in the fasting group than in the breakfast group by the final week of the trial.
The second phase of this trial will report results from a more overweight study population.
The open-access paper published in AJCN, ‘The causal role of breakfast in energy balance and health: a randomized controlled trial in lean adults’ is available to the public will be available from 8pm, 4 June via http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/recent.