If you celebrate Christmas then you’re almost certain to devour an enormous meal at some point on 25 December, your plate overflowing with proteins and carbohydrates. But should you add breakfast to the mix?

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A recent ‘big breakfast’ study by scientists at Aberdeen and Surrey universities found that the time of day when you consume your calories does not affect metabolism. Funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council, the trial involved 30 people on weight-loss diets, with some eating more in the morning, and others loading calories later in the day. The researchers found no difference in resting metabolic rate or weight loss for the two groups.

However, those eating a big breakfast were significantly less hungry later in the day. Using breath tests for octanoic acid, a fatty acid absorbed in the intestine, the team showed that it took far longer for the volunteers’ stomachs to empty after they’d had a larger breakfast.

The results tie in with another study showing that levels of a ‘hunger hormone’ called ghrelin are suppressed more after breakfast, than after an evening meal.

So, if you fill up on breakfast, not only will you be less likely to overindulge in your main meal, but you’ll also have enough energy to fuel the hours spent over a hot stove cooking it.

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Asked by: Victoria Gibbs, Norfolk

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Authors

Dr Emma Davies is a science writer and editor with a PhD in food chemistry from the University of Leeds. She writes about all aspects of chemistry, from food and the environment to toxicology and regulatory science.

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