Timing of daily calorie loading affects appetite and hunger responses without changes in energy metabolism in healthy subjects with obesity

Leonie C Ruddick-Collins, Peter J Morgan, Claire L Fyfe, Joao A N Filipe, Graham W Horgan, Klaas R Westerterp, Jonathan D Johnston, Alexandra M Johnstone* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Morning loaded calorie intake in humans has been advocated as a dietary strategy to improve weight loss. This is also supported by animal studies suggesting time of eating can prevent weight gain. However, the underlying mechanisms through which timing of eating could promote weight loss in humans are unclear. In a randomized crossover trial (NCT03305237), 30 subjects with obesity/overweight underwent two 4-week calorie-restricted but isoenergetic weight loss diets, with morning loaded or evening loaded calories (45%:35%:20% versus 20%:35%:45% calories at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, respectively). We demonstrate no differences in total daily energy expenditure or resting metabolic rate related to the timing of calorie distribution, and no difference in weight loss. Participants consuming the morning loaded diet reported significantly lower hunger. Thus, morning loaded intake (big breakfast) may assist with compliance to weight loss regime through a greater suppression of appetite.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1472-1485.e6
Number of pages21
JournalCell Metabolism
Issue number10
Early online date4 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

The authors gratefully acknowledge Sylvia Stephen, Jean Bryce, Nina Lamza, Karen Taylor, Melanie Hudson, Kat Niblock, Ewa Wojtaczka, Aimee Sutherland, David Bremner, Claire Kidd, and Alicia Bryce at the Human Nutrition Unit of the Rowett Institute for their support in meal preparation and participant assessment. The authors acknowledge the contribution of NIHR Core Biochemistry Assay Laboratory, Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (gut hormone analysis), and Loek Wouters at Maastricht University, Netherlands (DLW analysis). The authors also gratefully acknowledge Claus-Dieter Mayer for statistical analysis and modeling of the gastric emptying data. The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the Medical Research Council (grant MR/P012205/1, The Big Breakfast study). A.M.J., P.J.M., G.W.H., and J.A.N.F. also acknowledge funding support from the Scottish Government, Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division.

Author contributions
Conceptualization, design, and funding acquisition, A.M.J., P.J.M., and J.D.J.; investigation, L.C.R.-C. and C.L.F.; DLW analysis and modeling, K.R.W.; statistical analysis, G.W.H. and J.A.N.F.; writing – original draft, L.C.R.-C. and A.M.J.; writing – review & editing, all authors.

Data Availability Statement

Any additional information required to reanalyze the data reported in this paper is available from the lead contact upon request.


  • time of eating
  • body weight
  • obesity
  • energy intake
  • energy expenditure
  • appetite control
  • calorie distribution


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