Big Breakfast, Small Supper Best for Blood Sugar, Study Suggests

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Big breakfast for blood sugar

As anyone with diabetes knows, managing blood sugar levels is one of the key steps to staying healthy with the condition. And for those with Type 2, eating a high-energy breakfast and a low-energy dinner may improve glucose levels, according to a small new study published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes). An estimated 29 million people in the United States are living with Type 2 diabetes.

Previous studies have indicated that a high-energy breakfast with a low-energy dinner lowers after-meal blood glucose spikes in obese people without diabetes compared to a low-energy breakfast and high-energy dinner.

The new study involved 18 people (8 men and 10 women) who’d had Type 2 diabetes for less than 10 years, were between 30 and 70 years old, and were being treated with either lifestyle measures alone or lifestyle measures plus the oral drug metformin. The participants were randomly assigned to diets consisting of the same number of calories per day but arranged to include a roughly 700-calorie breakfast, 600-calorie lunch, and 200-calorie dinner, or a 200-calorie breakfast, 600-calorie lunch, and 700-calorie dinner. The 200-calorie meal consisted of sliced turkey breast, mozzarella, salad, and coffee, while the 700-calorie meal consisted of milk, tuna, a granola bar, scrambled egg, yogurt, and cereal.

On the seventh day of eating their designated diet, the volunteers received blood tests just before breakfast and at 15, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180 minutes after starting to eat. Blood samples were taken at the same points after lunch and dinner, with each of the samples tested for levels of glucose, insulin, C-peptide (a by-product of the manufacture of insulin), and glucagon-like peptide 1 (also known as GLP-1, a hormone that increases insulin secretion). After two weeks, the participants were assigned to the alternate diet, with blood tests again being taken on the seventh day of following the meal plan.

The researchers found that after-meal glucose levels were 20% lower and after-meal levels of insulin, C-peptide, and GLP-1 were 20% higher when the participants followed the large-breakfast diet compared to the large-dinner diet.

“These observations suggest that a change in meal timing influences the overall daily rhythm of post-meal insulin and incretin and results in a substantial reduction in the daily post-meal glucose levels,” notes study author Oren Froy, PhD. “A person’s meal timing schedule may be a crucial factor in the improvement of glucose balance and prevention of complications in Type 2 diabetes.”

Due to the small number of participants, further studies will be needed to determine whether consuming a high-energy breakfast and a low-energy dinner can help larger numbers of people with Type 2 diabetes manage their condition for the long-term, according to Diabetes UK research communications manager Richard Elliott.

For more information, read the article “High-energy breakfast with low-energy dinner helps control blood sugar in people with Type 2 diabetes” or see the study in the journal Diabetologia. And for more information on nutrition and meal planning with diabetes click here.

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