Imagine having lots of food -- including sweets like cake -- every morning and still losing weight. The Big Breakfast Diet says it's possible.
Author Daniela Jakubowicz, MD, claims that when you eat certain foods matters when you're trying to lose weight or keep it off. Jakubowicz, an endocrinologist, notes that hormones that control your appetite, energy, and metabolism vary naturally around the clock.
Her plan tells you how much protein, carbs, fats, and sugar to eat within 15 minutes of waking up each morning. That will boost your metabolism and tame your afternoon or evening cravings for junk food, she says.
Along with a bigger breakfast, the plan calls for a smaller lunch and dinner.
What You Can Eat and What You Can’t
For breakfast, you get seven protein servings, two servings each of carbohydrates and fat, and one serving of sweets.
A breakfast sweet can be jelly beans, a doughnut, or a piece of cake.
You can't eat carbs or sweets at lunch or dinner. You eat less protein than at breakfast, along with fruits and vegetables.
You can have sugar-free drinks, gum, and bouillon any time of day.
After a month on the diet, you can have an alcoholic drink with a meal once in a while. Jakubowicz advises low-sugar vodka or whiskey-based drinks over beer or wine.
Level of Effort: Medium
A large breakfast and small dinner might be hard to get used to. You never skip breakfast on this plan.
Limitations: You can have almost any food if you fit it into the diet's meal formulas. Eating out is fine, too. The diet breaks down fast foods like hamburgers, chicken wings, and pizza into serving sizes of proteins, carbs, and fat.
Cooking and shopping: The food is easy to shop for. The 30 sample meal plans and recipes include shakes and sandwiches for eating on the go.
Packaged foods or meals: None.
In-person meetings: No.
Exercise: You must move your body for at least 20 minutes a day. That can be an easy walk or 10 minutes of dancing, gardening, or any other activity twice a day. You don't have to join a gym or get sweaty.
Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?
Vegetarians or vegans: Some breakfast proteins on the diet come from milk or yogurt. Soy-milk products are OK instead if you are lactose-intolerant or vegan.
Gluten-free: If you are strictly avoiding gluten, you'll need to substitute gluten-free foods and check ingredients on food labels.
What Else You Should Know
Cost: None besides your grocery shopping.
Support: You’re basically on your own, but The Big Breakfast Diet does include a 28-day food diary and offers tips for holiday parties and other diet hurdles.
What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
Does It Work?
Eating your biggest meal in the morning may curb your appetite throughout the day, helping you lose weight.
In her own research, Jakubowicz found that eating a big breakfast helped some overweight women with a condition known as metabolic syndrome lose weight and belly fat better than a conventional 1,400-calorie diet. It also helped prevent diabetes and heart disease.
More research is needed to see what long-term effects this diet may have and if it has any advantages for people who don't have metabolic syndrome.
Is It Good for Certain Conditions?
Jakubowicz found that blood sugar and insulin levels were lower when breakfast was the largest meal of the day. If you have diabetes, check with your doctor before starting this or any diet. You may be on medications that peak at the times of the day when most people eat their largest meals. This may cause your blood sugar to dip dangerously low once you change your meal times around.
The author’s research also showed that eating smaller meals for lunch and dinner can help lower cholesterol.
If you're on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, get your proteins from lean, low-fat, or vegetable sources. And if you’re on a low-salt diet, read labels to be sure you’re on target.
The Final Word
The Big Breakfast Diet provides the same calories as a conventional diet. The difference is all in the timing.
If flexibility is important to you, this diet may be a good fit. There are very few restrictions, and you don’t have to buy special foods or supplements. The plan even allows you to fit fast food and other take-out into the plan once in a while.
If you're not a morning person, getting up early enough to make and eat a big breakfast may be a challenge. If you eat out a lot, be ready to take home a lot of doggie bags, as restaurant portions are likely to be much larger than you will be allowed.
And while the plan does include exercise, it falls just short of the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, so you may need to bump up your workout routine. Check with your doctor before doing that if you have any medical problems or have been inactive.