- Eating before 8:30 am was linked to lower blood sugar and insulin resistance in a new study.
- This supports previous evidence that breakfast is beneficial for metabolic health.
- A well-rounded breakfast includes protein, healthy fats, and fiber from unprocessed whole foods.
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The early bird not only gets the worm, but also gets better blood sugar levels too, new research suggests.
Eating in the early morning hours is associated with lower insulin resistance and lower risk of type 2
, according to a study to be presented at ENDO 2021, a virtual conference from The Endocrine Society held March 20-23.
These findings were part of a study on fasting, but researchers found there were benefits to an early breakfast even if you aren’t fasting.
“We found people who started eating earlier in the day had lower blood sugar levels and less insulin resistance, regardless of whether they restricted their food intake to less than 10 hours a day,” Dr. Marriam Ali, lead researcher of the study from Northwestern University in Chicago, said in a press release.
Intermittent fasting may worsen metabolism, but breakfast could help
Ali and her team analyzed data from 10,575 adult Americans from a national survey on health and nutrition to see if they could find patterns between meal timing and levels of blood sugar and insulin.
They found that intermittent fasting, or eating during a limited window of 10 hours or less each day, was linked to higher insulin resistance. That means people who fasted were less responsive to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Insulin resistance is a risk factor for developing
. These findings contrast with previous research showing fasting might improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.
However, people had lower levels of insulin resistance if they had their first meal before 8:30 am, regardless of whether they fasted or not.
And while fasting didn’t seem to matter for blood sugar levels, an early breakfast did. People who ate before 8:30 am had lower blood sugar levels, too, suggesting the morning meal had more metabolic benefits overall.
“These findings suggest that timing is more strongly associated with metabolic measures than duration and support early eating strategies,” Ali said in the press release.
A good breakfast supports a healthy weight and stable energy, evidence suggests
Breakfast isn’t necessarily the most important meal of the day, but it can make it easier to keep your energy stable throughout the day, according to Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietitian and nutritionist and author of Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table.
She previously told Insider that she’s a fan of breakfast and recommends that people start their day with a combination of protein, healthy fats, and fiber from unprocessed whole foods. Some examples include yogurt with fruit and nuts, or eggs with vegetables and whole-wheat toast.
The biggest mistake people make, according to Taub-Dix, is trying to skimp on the morning meal by relying just on coffee (which can disrupt blood sugar) or convenient, processed foods like donuts.
“So many people grab a muffin or a pastry but it doesn’t really satisfy you,” Taub Dix said. “You might find yourself with your head on your desk by noon.”
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