The Big Breakfast Study: Chrono-nutrition influence on energy expenditure and bodyweight

Nutr Bull. 2018 Jun;43(2):174-183. doi: 10.1111/nbu.12323. Epub 2018 May 8.


A growing body of evidence highlights the importance of the biological clock as a modulator of energy balance and metabolism. Recent studies in humans have shown that ingested calories are apparently utilised more efficiently in the morning than in the evening and this is manifest through improved weight loss, even under iso-energetic calorie intake. The mechanisms behind this enhanced morning energy metabolism are not yet clear, although it may result from behavioural adaptations or circadian driven variations in physiology and energy metabolism. A major objective of the newly funded Big Breakfast Study therefore is to investigate the mechanistic basis of this amplified morning thermogenesis leading to enhanced weight loss, by exploring behavioural and physiological adaptations in energy expenditure alongside the underlying circadian biology. This report briefly discusses the current research linking meal timing, circadian rhythms and metabolism; highlights the research gaps; and provides an overview of the studies being undertaken as part of the Medical Research Council-funded Big Breakfast Study.

Keywords: breakfast; chrono‐nutrition; circadian rhythms; energy balance; meal timing; weight loss.