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Skipping Breakfast Associated With Increased Insulin Resistance

It appears there may be some truth behind the expression that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A recent study suggests that regularly eating breakfast may decrease fat metabolism gene activity and increase sugar uptake in lean individuals, potentially lowering the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Participants in the study included 29 lean people and 20 obese people. They were instructed to eat breakfast every day before 11 am or to fast until midday for six weeks. The breakfast group consumed 350 calories within two hours of waking up and 700 calories by 11 each day. In comparison, the fasting group did not consume any calories until midday. 


Researchers measured metabolism, body composition, appetite responses, and markers of metabolic and cardiovascular health at the beginning and end of the study period. They also measured the activity of 44 genes and key proteins in the participants’ fat and examined the ability of the fat cells to take up glucose in response to insulin. 


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted lipid turnover and insulin signaling genes were up-regulated in the fasting group, when compared with the breakfast group. Up-regulation of insulin signaling can lead to increased insulin sensitivity, and high blood sugar. No changes between fasting and breakfast were noted in the obese participants. 


Researchers with the University of Bath conducted the study. It was published in The Journal of Physiology online on November 28, 2017.


Insulin resistance increases the risk of developing pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes. Risk factors for increased insulin resistance include being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and impaired glucose tolerance. Some ways to lower the risk of increased insulin resistance include lowering intake of carbohydrates, increase consumption of omega-3’s, get 30 minutes of exercise per day, quit smoking, and avoid skipping meals.

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