We've all heard the saying 'eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper' – now a large study has hailed it a successful weight loss strategy.
And slimmers see better results if they skip dinner altogether, the researchers also discovered.
The findings rubbish the concept that weight loss can be achieved by 'eating little and often' – a method endorsed by many nutritionists and Hollywood stars including Jennifer Aniston.
Indeed, no snacking in between meals was key found to be key to more successful weight loss.
After studying 50,000 adults, the researchers also recommend fasting overnight for up to 18 hours.
They wrote in the Journal of Nutrition: 'Our results suggest that in relatively healthy adults, eating less frequently, no snacking, consuming breakfast, and eating the largest meal in the morning may be effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain.
'Eating breakfast and lunch five to six hours apart and making the overnight fast last 18 to 19 hours may be a useful practical strategy.'
Researchers found that eating more earlier in the day is linked to having a lower BMI (file)
Dr Kahleova from Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California and her team analysed data gleaned from 50,660 participants of adults from the Adventist Health Study-2 who were over 30.
Their eating habits and weight were monitored for an average of seven years.
The researchers discovered four factors associated with a decrease in body mass index (BMI).
Firstly, eating only one or two meals per day and secondly, maintaining an overnight fast of up to 18 hours.
Thirdly, eating breakfast instead of skipping it, and fourthly, making breakfast or lunch the largest meal of the day.
People who made breakfast the largest meal saw a more significant decrease in their BMI than those who made lunch their most calorific meal.
Eating more than three meals per day – snacks were counted as extra meals – and making supper the largest meal of the day were associated with a higher BMI.
Theory behind this weight loss method
The process of digesting large amounts of food eaten at one sitting is said to burn a significant number of calories, so the potential for weight gain is reduced.
The result is someone is likely to gain less weight from eating 2,000 calories at one sitting than 2,000 calories spread out over many snacks, explained Dr Kahleova.
Generally, more snacks means more caloric intake.
Imagine having lots of food -- including sweets like cake -- every morning and still losing weight. The Big Breakfast Diet says it's possible.
Endocrinologist Daniela Jakubowicz, author of The Big Breakfast Diet, says the