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Nutrition

I Tried The Big Breakfast Diet | Here’s What Happened

This week, I tried the Big Breakfast Diet. Let me tell you now, this is my kind of diet — you’re not restricted from eating sweets and starches, in fact, it’s encouraged. As the name suggests, your biggest meal of the day is breakfast. So, while we’ve been told for years that breakfast’s the most important meal of the day, can it really help you lose weight?

 

What is the Big Breakfast Diet?

Coined by Daniela Jakubowicz, this diet means eating the majority of your calories in the morning, then a little less at lunch time, and even fewer in the evening. The idea is that you use the calories you eat for energy during the day — rather eating them all than just before you go to bed.

Jakubowicz conducted a study to put the big breakfast diet to the test and found impressive results. She believes that you should eat in sync with your body’s natural rhythms. These rhythms control your body’s hormone levels which, in turn, affect how the body uses protein and carbs for fuel and how efficiently it burns body fat. Basically, eating the right foods at the right time is said to make you feel less hungry and reduce carb cravings while restricting calories.

So does it work? Jakubowicz carried out a study assessing the weight loss of 94 overweight women over eight months on two different food plans. Half of the study group followed a low-carb diet with a smaller breakfast, a bigger lunch, and an even bigger dinner equalling 1,100-1,400 calories per day. The second study group followed the big breakfast diet, eating the same amount of calories per day as the first group.

Both groups lost weight as they were on a large calories deficit, however the big breakfast group lost significantly more weight, reported an improvement in alertness and a lack of cravings, whereas the small breakfast group craved carbs far more.

 

What Do You Eat?

I opted for 1,400 to 1,500 calories per day, starting with a 700-calorie breakfast, 500-calorie lunch and 200 to 300-calorie dinner. The diet recommends eating the majority of your carbs and protein for breakfast and lunch and sticking to fruits and vegetables for dinner.

 

My usual routine

I have a pretty good relationship with food, however, I do struggle with snacking in the evenings and find this is where I let myself down when I’m trying to be especially good. Curbing my evening cravings sounds like the perfect plan for me when trying to stick to a calorie deficit. I also love breakfast and never ever skip it, so the calorie deficit will definitely be the biggest challenge for me.

I also cycle a total of 16 miles per day to and from work, so eating lots of protein after my bike ride in the morning also feels like it will set me up for the day. The calorie deficit is quite a lot though, so I think this may be a struggle at times.

I’ll be taking on this diet for just over a week to see if I can stick to it, however I’m not after any drastic changes to my body — maybe just to be a little leaner before my summer holiday!

Here’s a look at what I ate and how I got on:

 

Day 1

Breakfast — 700 kcals

  • Porridge with soy milk, powdered peanut butter, Chocolate Peanut Butter Flavdrops
  • Seitan sausage pitta with mayo and salad

I had the porridge before cycling to work and then the pitta when I got there. That was a lot more than I’d usually eat before cycling to work! It’s going to be weird not snacking between my meals — although this has left me feeling very full.

Lunch — 500 kcals

  • Vegan burrito

Usually I get hungry at about 11am – way before lunchtime. Today I wasn’t half as hungry as I usually am at lunch time. Not sure I’ll last until I get home tonight though, as I usually snack through the afternoon, so this is going to be hard.

Dinner — 200kcals

  • Peas with fresh garlic and mint
  • Fresh pineapple and mango chunks

In the evening, you’re meant to have a low-carb and lower protein option, so I reckon I’ll be hungry by the time I go to bed, and especially jealous of my boyfriend’s dinner.

I was a bit hungry when I went to bed but weirdly didn’t crave anything else after dinner like I usually do.

I struggle psychologically after a meal with not being able to snack which makes me think I’m still hungry when I’m not – this happened after lunch and dinner today, but after about 20 mins I felt full and like I didn’t need more after all.

Day 2

Breakfast — 700kcals

I woke up hungry this morning, but not ravenous like I have done on past diets. I had the Weetabix before my cycle to work and the rest when I got to the office. I was quite full by the end and finishing all that food was quite a struggle.

Lunch — 500kcals

  • Burrito

I wasn’t nearly as hungry at lunch time today, but still could eat. I’m still struggling with the fact that that’s all I’m having until this evening now, but not as much as yesterday as I know I’ve eaten enough to cycle home on.

Dinner — 200kcals

  • Quinoa and edamame salad

Tonight, I had a ready-made quinoa and edamame salad as I wanted something more meal-like, but didn’t have time to really make anything. I was quite hungry this evening, so filled up on herbal tea after dinner which seemed to take the edge off.

Day 3

Breakfast — 700kcals

  • Protein pancakes

This morning I had a huge stack of protein pancakes, made with oats, banana, and Vegan Protein Blend in coffee and walnut flavour. I topped them with peanut butter powder mixed with water, banana, and maple syrup.

Mixing up my breakfasts is definitely making me feel better about the lack of dinner. I’m used to cooking and eating lots of different foods all the time, so I feel like it’s important I keep an aspect of this up to keep me on track.

Lunch — 500kcals

  • Burrito
  • Bite of cake

We had a cake day in the office, so I had the tiniest bite to try – I’m impressed by my willpower and have definitely found it a bit easier so far today.

Dinner — 200kcals

  • Ready-made salad

Mexican rice, quinoa and avocado salad that comes in at about 200 kcals. I’ve been cheating a bit the past couple of nights, but I promise I’ll actually make something tomorrow night — I’ve also been focusing on making my breakfasts and lunches, so tonight I was prepping my beetroot burgers for the next two days — so excited for these.

Day 4

Breakfast — 700 kcals

  • Vegan Full English Breakfast

I had sausages, toast, mushrooms, kale, and beans with a squirt of brown sauce — and there’s still room for yoghurt and fruit after all this. This was a bit of a nightmare to make at the office. I’m really enjoying having an extravagant breakfast every morning, but it still doesn’t make up for not really eating in the evening as this is when I have the most time to kill.

Lunch — 500 kcals

  • Beetroot Burger

This is one of our own recipes – 15-Minute Bangin’ Beetroot Burgers — absolutely delicious and definitely hit the spot. I’ve realised I’ve had quite a lot of bread today, but will only be having veggies and fruit tonight anyway.

Dinner — 200kcals

  • Carrots and reduced fat hummus
  • Pineapple chunks
  • 1 square dark chocolate

I know you’re not meant to have chocolate in the evening, but my boyfriend cracked it open and who could say no, right?

Day 5

Breakfast — 700kcals

  • Baked beans, rice, and kale
  • Banana and Vegan Blend smoothie
  • Soy yoghurt and mixed berries

Today I did a bit of a “what can I use from the cupboard” breakfast as we were getting low on fresh stuff. The rice was surprisingly nice! My body is getting used to starting the day with a bigger meal now too. It was a bit unsettled for a couple of days.

Lunch — 500kcals

  • Beetroot burger

I’ve really enjoyed this and it’s kept me pretty satisfied for most of the afternoon. I also had half a cookie that somebody brought in, but I’ve been good all week and felt like a Friday afternoon treat and like I needed the added calories to be honest.

Dinner —200kcals

  • Microwave rice

This was super lazy, but it’s a Friday night and I wanted to relax. I’ll be taking the weekend off as we’re having friends round and eating to a strict schedule won’t make me a very good host!

Day 6

I’ve taken the weekend off and feel ready to get on this again. I tried on a bikini for holiday on Saturday and could really see the difference in my abs — they’re way more visible than before and I feel much leaner and more confident. This diet has been good so far as I usually save up all my calories for the evening and end up over-eating, whereas only having 200 in the evening has helped me stick to the deficit — although I think I could do with a couple hundred more if I was doing this for longer than 10 days due to the amount of cycling I do.

Breakfast — 700kcals

  • Porridge with soy milk, powdered peanut butter, and flaxseed
  • Vegan Protein Blend (Coffee and Walnut flavour), coffee, and almond milk
  • Soy yoghurt and berries
  • Tea with oat milk

Typical Monday morning caffeine boost for me! Also, packing in the omega-3 as starting to worry that a calorie deficit might affect the variety of nutrition that I usually get from my diet, so lots of oats and flaxseed today.

Lunch — 500kcals

  • Jackfruit thai green curry, rice, baby corn
  • Apple
  • Orange

I feel like this is about as healthy as it gets and wish I’d indulged a little more, however it was nice to finish lunch on something sweet like fruit. It’s not kept me as full as I’m definitely lacking some protein here.

Dinner — 200kcals

  • Peas with fresh garlic, dry-fried chickpeas and paprika
  • Chai tea

This was an odd combination at best and I definitely won’t be having this again! Can’t deny that I’m definitely hungry in the evenings, but keeping busy keeps my mind off it. Woke up in the middle of the night and then couldn’t get back to sleep for a while because I felt so hungry, but I’d been fine before I went to bed.

Day 7

Breakfast — 700kcals

  • Veggie sausage sandwich, brown sauce
  • Soy yoghurt with mixed berries
  • Vegan Carb Crusher, Peanut Butter Flavour

This was very high in protein and carbs so did a good job of keeping me full until lunch.

Lunch — 500kcals

  • Seitan sandwich with vegan mustard mayo
  • Apple

This was a good meal – lots of protein and carbs needed for my cycling and to get me through the day. Also super tasty – I make seitan in big batches and freeze it, which is perfect for a quick sandwich.

Dinner — 300kcals

  • Butternut squash soup
  • Carrots and hummus

I’ve upped my dinner by 100kcals as I feel like the deficit is too much and is really taking its toll on me. I had a big bowl of butternut squash soup – finally something that felt like a proper meal! And then some carrots with hummus to finish.

Day 8

Breakfast — 700kcals

Nothing like a bit of dessert for brekkie! Good source of my omega-3 for breakfast today too.

Lunch — 500kcals

  • Seitan sandwich with vegan mustard mayo
  • Apple

I’m definitely getting more used to this way of eating — my body has begun to expect a big lunch and I’m less stressed out about not eating until I get home as well as I know I can do it now. I’m very ready for my meals though.

Dinner — 300kcals

  • Hummus and carrots
  • Mango chunks

I’ve definitely stopped fixating on food in the evenings. Before, my body craved something after dinner, but sticking to a 3-meal plan and being strict about that has really stopped me eating loads after dinner.

 

Verdict

I didn’t hate this diet. I felt like I could pretty much eat what I wanted as long as it fitted with a specific time of day and my calories. It’s definitely quite an antisocial diet as eating 200 calories in the evening is pretty impossible if you’re going out for dinner. I found it pretty easy during the week though. I think I’ll definitely be eating more in the mornings as I feel so much more energised. It’s has also broken my bad habit for the need of a sweet treat in the evening too which is great!

As I’m already a healthy weight and absolutely LOVE food, I won’t be carrying on — I also need more calories for the amount of cycling I do. I do look leaner, but I’ve also struggled to keep up my usual cycling pace due to the calorie deficit. However, if I was ever wanting to look a little leaner for a holiday, I reckon I could take on this diet again for a little bit!

Check out some of the other things we’ve tried:

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2019-08-09 15:22:57By Evangeline Howarth

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.



Evangeline Howarth

Evangeline Howarth

Writer and expert

Evangeline has taken part in competitive sports since a young age. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor, she understands the importance of proper nutrition for fuelling extreme and endurance sports, especially due to her experience in Team GBR Squads and captaining and coaching her University first team.

In her spare time, Evangeline loves running – especially marathons. On the weekends, you’ll find her taking on water sports or hiking up a hill. Her favourite evenings are spent taking on a HIIT session or squats in the gym before digging into some spicy food and a ton of vegetables – yum!

Find out more about Evie's experience here.