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Study: Eating a big breakfast burns more calories

Breakfast might just be making a comeback, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.

Eating breakfast isn't always for everyone, especially with all the buzz lately surrounding intermittent fasting.

But new research shows that a big boy meal in the morning might help you actually lose weight. However, use caution on what you pack on your plate to reap the benefits of breakfast.

Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey teamed up with registered dietitians at Weis Markets in Bloomsburg to highlight the study and break down the key points.

 The following information and suggestions are courtesy of Weis Markets registered dietitians Kathryn Long and Erin Dunleavy. The other study they touched on surrounding the link between blue light on your smartphone and your waistline can be found at the bottom of this post after the recipes. 

From Weis Markets registered dietitians:

A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in February 2020 stated: "A big breakfast can help burn more calories." (1)

 To better understand the study results, it will help to have a basic understanding of your metabolism. Your metabolism is made up of three components:

 1. Your basal metabolic rate

  • This is the rate at which your body uses energy while at rest, to keep vital functions going, such as breathing and keeping warm.
  • Accounts for ~60-75% of the calories you burn each day.

2. Thermal effect of food (diet-induced thermogenesis)

  • The increase in your metabolic rate after eating food.
  • Accounts for ~5-15% of the calories you burn each day.

3. Your physical activity level

  • The amount of movement you do throughout the day, such as walking, cleaning, exercise, etc.
  • This varies for each person.

In the study, participants were split into two groups:

  • One group ate a high-calorie breakfast and low-calorie dinner
  • Another group ate a low-calorie breakfast and high-calorie dinner

Both groups ate the same number of total calories per day.

The group who ate the higher calorie breakfast saw an increase in that thermal effect of food. Again, it's important to note that the thermal effect of food only accounts for 5-15% of the energy (or calories) your body burns throughout the day.

The researchers also noted that those in the low-calorie breakfast group reported increased feelings of hunger throughout the day and had an increased craving for sweets.

This study suggests that your body burns slightly more calories when you have a larger breakfast and a smaller dinner. This approach is the opposite of many Americans eating patterns where a small breakfast and a large dinner are consumed.

There are a lot of studies out there when it comes to breakfast being the most important meal of the day. and the results vary widely.

Here's what we know:

  • Breakfast can help to keep your appetite in check and prevent low blood sugar.  If you let yourself get too hungry, you're less likely to choose the "better-for-you" options.
  • Breakfast gives you energy.  Imagine driving your car when it's on empty. You aren't going to make it very far before needing to refuel.
  • Breakfast can boost your intake of important nutrients. In fact, when it comes to American's diets, there are four nutrients that so many of us don't get enough of that they are considered nutrients of public health concern and those are: calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamin D.  A balanced breakfast can provide all of those nutrients.  Did you know that milk is the #1 food source when it comes to 3 out of the 4 of those?!  Calcium, potassium, vitamin D.
  • More than 75% of people who lost more than 30 pounds and kept it off eat breakfast every single day. (2)

The bottom line: There are many advantages to eating breakfast and the foods you choose to eat matter. Create a balanced meal that includes good quality sources of protein, fiber and healthy fats like the following:

Sources of protein:

  • Yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, milk, nut butters, nuts, seeds, cheese, oats, whole wheat bread, beans

Sources of fiber:

  • Whole wheat bread/English muffins, oats, fruits, vegetables, avocado, nuts, seeds, bran, oat milk beverage

Sources of healthy fats:

  • Olive oil, nuts, seeds, nut butter, avocado, omega three fortified foods

What if you're not a breakfast person? Split it up into two snacks throughout the morning.

Do you rush to get out the door in the morning? Make breakfast the night before or over the weekend so you can grab and go in the morning.  Try things like overnight oats or make-ahead Egg Frittata Muffins or Cran-Orange Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies (Recipes below)

Not hungry in the morning? Take notice of how late you ate the night before. If you tend to eat a late dinner or snack late at night, you may not be hungry upon waking up in the morning. Experiment with eating earlier in the evening and then assess your hunger level the next morning.

What about intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting was the most googled diet trend of 2019, and it involves limiting the time during which you eat. For example: between 11:00 a.m. -7:00 p.m. Wouldn't this mean you're skipping breakfast? It comes to down to the fact that different eating approaches work for different people and you have to listen to your body and do what feels best for you. It's still important to make good food choices no matter which eating plan you choose. 

Recipes for on the go

Cran-Orange Breakfast Cookies

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Bake Time: 14 minutes
  • Makes: 16 cookies


  • 3 cups Weis Quality Old Fashioned Oats
  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. Weis Quality Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Weis Quality Baking Soda
  • ⅛ tsp. Weis Quality Iodized Salt
  • 1 large Weis Quality Egg, beaten
  • 1 /3 cup Weis Quality Canola Oil
  • 1 cup packed Weis Quality Light Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Weis Quality 100% Orange Juice
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. Weis Quality Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup sliced almonds


Preheat oven to 350ºF and spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the beaten egg, oil, brown sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract until blended. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing just until moistened. Add cranberries and almonds and gently mix until well combined. Drop dough by the ¼ cup onto the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, gently flattening. Bake 14 minutes or until lightly browned and set in the middle. Cool completely on a wire rack before storing.

 Approximate nutritional values per serving: 200 calories, 7g fat, 4g saturated fat, 15mg cholesterol, 30mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 4g protein

Egg Frittatas Muffins

  • Prep: 20 minutes
  • Bake: 20 minutes
  • Makes: 4 (2 egg muffin) servings


  • 3 slices turkey bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ small red onion, sliced
  • ¾ cup Weis Quality Sliced White Mushrooms
  • 1 cup loosely packed Weis Quality Baby Spinach, chopped
  • 7 Weis Quality Large Eggs
  • ¼ tsp. Weis Quality Ground Black Pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2½ Tbsp. Weis Quality Made with 2% Milk Shredded Cheddar Cheese


Preheat oven to 350° and spray 8 standard muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms, and cook 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in spinach. Evenly divide the mixture into prepared muffin cups and sprinkle 1 teaspoon cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and pepper; evenly pour over cheese in muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until tops are lightly browned, and the internal temperature reaches 145°. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then invert onto a plate.

Approximate nutritional values per serving: 198 calories, 13g fat, 4g saturated fat, 337mg cholesterol, 344mg sodium, 5g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 16g protein

For more variety, mix and match your favorite veggies and proteins or try these tasty ingredient combinations! Try:

  • Spinach + feta + olives
  • Broccoli + brie + yellow onion
  • Zucchini + eggplant + cherry tomatoes

Overnight Oats

  • Prep: 5 minutes
  • Chill: 8 hours or overnight
  • Makes: 1 jar


  • ½ cup Weis Quality Old Fashioned Oats
  • ½ cup Weis Quality 1% Milk (or milk of choice)
  • ½ tsp. Weis Quality Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Optional toppings: fresh fruit, walnuts, sliced almonds, honey, cinnamon, etc.


Add oats, milk, and vanilla to a glass jar and stir to combine. Cover and chill overnight, at least 8 hours. In the morning, add desired toppings.  Enjoy overnight oats cold or heated, if desired.

Nutritional values vary depending on toppings.

No-Bake Energy Bites

  • Prep: 10 minutes
  • Chill: 30 minutes
  • Makes: 25 bites


  • 1 cup Weis Quality Old Fashioned Oats
  • ½ cup Weis Quality Creamy Peanut Butter
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed
  • ⅓ cup Weis Quality 100% Pure Honey
  • 1 tsp. Weis Quality Pure Vanilla Extract

Stir in up to any 3 of these ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried cherries, raisins, blueberries or cranberries
  • ½ cup unsalted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios or peanuts
  • ½ cup crushed whole-grain cereal or pretzels
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup Weis Quality Coconut Flakes


Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, so the mixture is easier to shape. Using your hands or a cookie scoop, roll the mixture into 25 (1-inch) bites. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Nutritional values vary depending on the add-ins.

Banana Berry Roll-Ups

  • Prep: 5 minutes
  • Makes: 1 serving


  • 1 (8-inch) Weis Quality Whole Wheat Tortilla
  • 2 Tbsp. Weis Quality Creamy Peanut Butter
  • ¼ cup strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium banana, peeled
  • 1 tsp. Weis Quality Seedless Raisins
  • ¼ tsp. Weis Quality Ground Cinnamon


Place tortilla on a flat surface. Spread peanut butter evenly on a tortilla, leaving 1/2 -inch border around the edge. Arrange strawberries on one side on the tortilla in a single layer about 1-inch from the edge. Place whole banana on the strawberry layer and sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon. Tightly roll up the tortilla, working toward the berry-free edge and slice.

Approximate nutritional values per serving: 480 calories, 22g fat, 5g saturated fat, 40mg cholesterol, 450mg sodium, 65g carbohydrate, 10g fiber, 13g protein


  1. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/105/3/dgz311/5740411
  2. http://www.nwcr.ws/research/

Another study: Could your smartphone be affecting your waistline?

Research suggests a link between blue light from smartphone screens and weight gain.

The study entitled "Blue light at night increases the consumption of sweets in rats" was published in the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior."

The summary stated: the "new study demonstrates that just one hour of exposure to blue light at night -- the kind of light produced by the screens of our many devices -- raises blood sugar levels and increases sugar consumption in male rats."

Weis Markets registered dietitians helped break down the facts as the research suggested it all could impact your waistline. The pros provided the following explanation:

"Blue light,  which is beneficial during daylight hours because it boosts attention, reaction times, and mood, seems to be disruptive at night. This type of light affects our bodies' ability to produce melatonin, which is the sleepy hormone. Exposure to light at night is part of the reason people don't get enough sleep, and lack of sleep is associated with increased risk for weight gain, depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

There was a study was done on rats, and after the nights they were exposed to blue light, the rats consumed more sugar compared to nights they were not exposed to blue light. This was a very short study, only 1 night, so we don't know if the same effect would happen in people.

In order to avoid blue light at night, put your phone down 2-3 hours before bedtime, or use the night mode on your phone to shift the color of your display to warmer colors.