New Studies Reveal the Importance of Breakfast in Controlling Type 2 Diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on March 4, 2015

Eating the right kind of breakfast could help in the battle against type 2 diabetes with those who habitually skip the first meal of the day more likely to have poor glucose control.

Research has also found that the type of breakfast you eat can affect the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as responses to protein are so different.

Woman eating breakfastA study at the University of Missouri in the United States looked at 35 overweight young women who habitually ate breakfast or habitually skipped breakfast. For the study, the habitual breakfast skippers ate a high carbohydrate breakfast, a high protein breakfast or continued to skip breakfast consecutively for three days.

Meanwhile, the habitual breakfast consumers ate a high carbohydrate breakfast or a high-protein breakfast consecutively for four days. On the fourth day of each pattern, the researchers measured the subjects’ blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels throughout the day.

The researchers found the young women’s glucose responses to high protein compared to high carbohydrate breakfasts were influenced by their typical breakfast habits. For habitual breakfast skippers, eating a high protein breakfast led to elevated glucose levels throughout the day compared to skipping breakfast, whereas the standard, high carbohydrate breakfast did not influence these responses. However, among those who routinely ate breakfast, the high-protein breakfasts led to reduced glucose levels throughout the day.

‘These findings may indicate an increased inability among habitual breakfast skippers to metabolize a large quantity of protein,’ said Heather Leidy, an assistant professor in the university’s department of nutrition and exercise physiology.

‘Unfortunately, we don’t yet know how long someone who has been skipping breakfast needs to continue eating breakfast to experience benefits. However, our data would suggest that once someone begins to eat breakfast, they should gradually transition to a breakfast with more protein, or about 30 grams, to elicit improvements in glycaemic control,’ she explained.

‘Because of the potential risk in the long term, identifying dietary strategies that individuals can begin when they are young to reduce post meal elevations in glucose might prevent the occurrence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,’ she added.

Leidy said young women should routinely aim for a 350 calorie breakfast with approximately 30 grams of protein. To meet the recommended 30 grams of protein, Leidy suggests foods such scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos with eggs and lean meats, or Greek yogurt.

A separate study has found that people who eat a high energy breakfast and a low energy dinner have better blood sugar control than those who eat a low energy breakfast and a high energy dinner.

Adjusting diet in this fashion could help optimise metabolic control and prevent complications of type 2 diabetes, according to the authors from the University of Tel Aviv and the University of Jerusalem in Israel.

The randomised study included 18 individuals, eight men and 10 women, with type 2 diabetes of less than 10 years duration aged 30 to 70 years being treated with metformin and/or dietary advice.

They were given two different diets for two weeks then they swapped over. The larger of the two meals included milk, tuna, a granola bar, scrambled egg, yoghurt and cereal, while the smaller meal contained sliced turkey breast, mozzarella, salad and coffee.

The results showed that a change in meal timing influenced the overall daily rhythm of post meal insulin and incretin and resulted in a substantial reduction in the daily post meal glucose levels.

‘A person’s meal timing schedule may be a crucial factor in the improvement of glucose balance and prevention of complications in type 2 diabetes and lends further support to the role of the circadian system in metabolic regulation,’ said Professor Oren Froy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Professor Daniela Jakubowicz of the Wolfson Medical Centre at Tel Aviv University, explained that the mechanism of better glucose tolerance after a high energy breakfast rather than after an identical dinner may be in part the result of clock regulation that triggers higher beta cell responsiveness and insulin secretion in the morning.

‘High energy intake at breakfast is associated with significant reduction in overall post meal glucose levels in diabetic patients over the entire day. This dietary adjustment may have a therapeutic advantage for the achievement of optimal metabolic control and may have the potential for being preventive for cardiovascular and other complications of type 2 diabetes,’ she added.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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