If you’re looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, eating more would naturally seem counterintuitive. Yet, research suggests that a bigger meal – specifically, breakfast – could actually have you burning more calories and perhaps even prevent obesity.

According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, a higher breakfast appears to prevent obesity and high blood sugar. Yet, the findings come with a caveat: to maximize the benefits of fueling up more in the morning, you must also eat lighter meals throughout the rest of the day, including dinner. The good news is that your larger breakfast could help decrease appetite.

Based on the research, experts have determined that timing is an important factor when it comes to how our bodies process food. The same meal eaten for breakfast creates twice the level of diet-induced thermogenesis compared to when it’s eaten for dinner, according to the study’s corresponding author. Simply put, diet-induced thermogenesis is the production of heat which aids in calorie burn. It plays a role in the development of obesity, and individuals with lower levels are more likely to be obese.

Ultimately, planning larger meals at the start of the day instead of the evening appears to be a simple way to promote calorie burn. Yet, the nutritional value of your meals still matters, too. To that end, you should aim to incorporate nutritionally-dense foods into your breakfast whenever possible. Look for protein-rich foods such as Greek yogurt, eggs, and nut butter, as well as good sources of fiber including whole grains. Together, these foods can help you stay full throughout the day. For an added bonus, incorporate fruits and vegetables: throw some broccoli or spinach into an omelet, or slice up some fresh fruit to enjoy on top of your yogurt.

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