Big breakfast backed to aid female fertility difficulties: Study

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Insulin, Estrogen

Eating a bigger breakfast in the morning, and cutting back on large meals in the evening, could help to assist women in overcoming reproductive difficulties, say researchers.

Consuming more calories in the morning, rather than the evening, could help increase fertility among woman who suffer from menstrual irregularities, according to the new study findings which show improved signs of fertility for women that ate a big breakfast rather than a big dinner.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is known to affect approximately 6-10% of woman of reproductive age, disrupting their reproductive abilities. The condition creates a resistance to insulin, leading to an increase in male sex hormones (androgens), and can also cause menstrual irregularities, hair loss on the scalp though increase in body hair, acne, fertility problems and an increased future risk of diabetes.

Writing in Clinical Science, the Israeli research team examined whether the timing of calorie intake affects insulin resistance and the increase in androgens among woman suffering from PCOS - finding that consuming more calories early in the day led to improvements in glucose management and insulin levels, in addition to lower levels of testosterone and higher ovulation rates.

"In lean PCOS women, a high caloric intake at breakfast with reduced intake at dinner results in improved insulin sensitivity indices and reduced cytochrome P450c17α activity, which ameliorates hyperandrogenism and improves ovulation rate,"​ revealed the research team - led by Professor Oren Froy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

"The research clearly 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 Froy.

Study details

Froy and his colleagues analysed data from 60 women aged between 25 and 39, who took part in the 12 week study. All women had a BMI of less than 23 and suffered from PCOS.

The women were divided into two groups and were allowed to consume around 1,800 calories a day - with one group consuming their largest meal (of approximately 980 calories) at breakfast, while the other at dinner.

The women kept records of exactly what they ate.

In women consuming the larger breakfast, the team found that glucose levels and insulin resistance decreased by 8%, while the second group (dinner) showed no changes.

The 'breakfast' group also showed up to a 50% decrease in testosterone levels, while the 'dinner' group level remained neutral.

In addition, there was a much higher rate of ovulating woman within the breakfast group compared to the dinner group, said the team - who suggested that this shows that eating a hearty breakfast leads to an increase in the level of fertility among woman with PCOS.

Related topics: Science

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