A DIET consisting of a big breakfast and smaller meals throughout the day and a good night’s sleep are beneficial for weight loss, studies have shown.

Scientists studied 93 obese women who were split into two groups and given carefully structured meals.

Both groups ate 1400 calories daily for 12 weeks, but with opposite patterns of consumption.

One consumed half their total calorie allowance at breakfast time. Breakfast consisted of 700 calories, lunch 500 and dinner just 200.

The other group consumed 200 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 700 at the end of the day.

After 12 weeks women in the big breakfast group had each lost an average of 8.07 kg and 7.5cm off their waist.

In comparison, women in the big dinner group lost 3.31 kg and 3.5cm off their waists.

The big breakfast group also experienced significant reductions in levels of insulin, glucose and triglycerides.

Triglycerides fell by more than a third in the big breakfast group but increased by 14.6% in the big dinner group.

The researchers, led by Dr Daniela Jakubowicz, from Tel Aviv University in Israel, said the results demonstrated that a high calorie breakfast led to increased compliance and was more beneficial than a high calorie dinner for weight loss, insulin sensitivity and hunger suppression.

“Our study indicates that avoidance of large meals in the evening may be particularly beneficial in improving glucose and lipid profiles and may lead to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”

Meanwhile, a separate study has found evidence that a lack of sleep causes changes in brain activity that lead to people feeling hungrier and craving more fattening foods.

A team from the University of California used magnetic resonance imaging to spot changes in the brain activity of sleep-deprived test subjects.

Twenty-three participants had two MRIs; one after a full night of sleep and one after being deprived of sleep for a night. Their brain activity was measured the next day as they selected items and portion sizes from pictures of 80 different food types.

Among the fatigued individuals, the researchers noted impaired activity in regions of the cortex that evaluate appetite and satiation.

Simultaneously, there was a boost in areas associated with craving.

“An additionally interesting finding was that high calorie foods became more desirable to the sleep deprived participants,” said study co-author Matthew Walker of the psychology department at the University of California in Berkeley.

“These findings of impaired brain activity in regions that control good judgment and decision making together with amplified activity in more reward-related brain regions fit well with, and potentially explain, the link between sleep loss, weight gain and obesity,” he said.

“Our findings indicate that [to] regularly obtain sufficient amounts of sleep may be an important factor promoting weight control, achieved by priming the brain mechanisms governing appropriate food choices.”

Source: Medical Observer