Eating a good breakfast can have a positive impact on women with problems of infertility, according to a new study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University.
The researchers said that in recent years, nutrition research has found that weight is affected not only by the level of calorie intake, but also by when the largest amount of calories is consumed.
The new research, published in the journal Clinical Science, showed that a big breakfast increased fertility among women who suffered from menstrual irregularities.
The study examined whether meal times had an impact on the health of women with menstrual irregularities due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which affects between 6 and 10% of women of reproductive age, and disrupts their reproductive abilities. The syndrome creates a resistance to insulin, leading to an increase in male sex hormones (androgens). It can also cause menstrual irregularities, hair loss on the scalp through increase in body hair, acne, fertility problems and future diabetes.
The study examined 60 women over a 12-week period. The women, aged between 25 and 39, had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 23 and suffered from PCOS.
The women were divided into two groups and were allowed to consume about 1,800 calories per day. One group consumed their largest meal, approximately 980 calories, at breakfast, while the other consumed their largest meal at dinner time.
The findings showed improved results for the group that consumed a big breakfast. Glucose levels and insulin resistance decreased by 8%, while the dinner group showed no changes. Among the breakfast group, testosterone (an androgen) decreased by nearly half, while the dinner group level stayed the same.
There was also a much higher rate of ovulating women within the breakfast group compared with the dinner group.
“The research demonstrates that indeed the amount of calories we consume daily is very important, but the timing as to when we consume them is even more important,” said Professor Oren Froy, Director of the Nutrigenomics and Functional Foods Research Centre at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the Hebrew University.