Large breakfast, small dinner tied to better diabetes control

March 7, 2015 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

Large breakfast, small dinner tied to better diabetes control

Large breakfasts and small dinners might be a healthier way to eat for people with type 2 diabetes, according to a small new study.

People with diabetes in the study who ate big breakfasts and small dinners had fewer episodes of high blood sugar than those who ate small breakfasts and large dinners, researchers found.

Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is controlled by the body’s internal clock, with larger blood sugar peaks after evening meals. Yet people with type 2 diabetes often time their meals in opposition to their internal clock. “They frequently skip breakfast while eating a high-calorie dinner,” the researchers noted, adding that skipping breakfast is linked to obesity and poor blood sugar control.

The new study involved eight men and ten women with type 2 diabetes, ages 30 to 70, who were being treated with either the diabetes drug metformin and dietary advice or diet advice alone.

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes and is often linked to obesity. In type 2 diabetes, the body's cells are resistant to the hormone insulin, or the body doesn't make enough of it. Insulin gives blood sugar access to the body's cells to be used as fuel.

The participants were randomly assigned to follow a meal plan that consisted of either a 700-calorie breakfast and 200-calorie dinner or a 200-calorie breakfast and a 700-calorie dinner. Both diets included a 600-calorie lunch.

After following the assigned meal plans for six days at home, the participants spent a day at the clinic, where blood tests were taken. They repeated the experiment two weeks later with the other diet plan.

The study team found that post-meal glucose levels were 20 percent lower, and levels of insulin were 20 percent higher, when the participants consumed the large breakfasts and small dinners. Longer studies are needed to see if the benefits would continue over time.

The study’s participants took few medications and had no major complications so the results might therefore not apply to other groups with diabetes. People with diabetes who take insulin should speak to their endocrinologists before experimenting with drastic dietary adjustments.

Source: Diabetologia, online February 24, 2015.

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