Is this the secret to a successful diet?

 A diet’s long-term effectiveness depends on its ability to increase a sense of fullness and bring down carbohydrate cravings, report researchers from Venezuela and the US presented during The Endocrine Society’s 90th Annual Meeting.

First, the details.

  • 94 obese, physically inactive women were assigned to a diet and monitored for 8 months.
  • Both diets were low in fat and total calories but differed in the carbohydrate distribution.
  • Both diets permitted 395 calories (34, 28 and 13 grams of carbs, protein and fat, respectively) for lunch and 235 calories (5, 18 and 26 grams, respectively) for dinner.

The very-low-carbohydrate diet

  • 1,085 calories a day.
  • 17, 51, and 78 grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, respectively.
  • Breakfast (290 calories) included 7 grams of carbs, such as bread, fruit, cereal, and milk.
  • Dieters ate just 12 grams of protein, such as meat and eggs, in the morning.

Modified low-carb diet, or “big-breakfast diet”

  • 1,240 calories a day.
  • 97, 93, and 46 grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, respectively.
  • Breakfast (610 calories) included 58, 47, and 22 grams of carbs, protein, and fat.

And, the results.

At 4 months

  • Low-carb dieters lost about 28 pounds vs about 23 pounds in the big-breakfast diet — not significantly different.

At 8 months

  • Low-carb dieters regained about 18 pounds, while the big-breakfast group lost another 17 pounds — more than 21% of their body weight vs 5% for the low-carb diet.
  • Women who ate a big breakfast reported feeling less hungry, especially before lunch, and having fewer cravings for carbs.

The bottom line?
The big-breakfast diet turns the usual intake of nutrients on its head, with breakfast being the highest calorie meal and dinner the lowest calorie meal each day.

Lead author, Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz says, “The big-breakfast diet works because it controls appetite and cravings for sweets and starches. It also is healthier than an extremely low-carbohydrate diet, because it allows people to eat more fruit and therefore get enough fiber and vitamins.”

Maybe so, but it also requires a major commitment to change a lifetime of eating habits.

1/4/09 20:25 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.