If you’re used to having a small breakfast and a larger dinner, research suggests you’re doing things the wrong way round.

In a small trial of 18 participants with type 2 diabetes, researchers from Israel and Sweden reviewed two different eating plans. One of which featured a larger (704 calories) breakfast and a small (205 calories) dinner, the other plan included a small (205 cal) breakfast and a larger (704 cal) dinner. In both meal plans, the lunch was 603 calories.

The participants had BMI values which ranged between 22 and 35 kg/m2, were aged between 30 and 70 years old and were all treated either with metformin or by lifestyle changes alone.

The researchers measured levels of blood glucose, insulin and the incretin hormone GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) through the day.

20% lower blood sugar levels

The results showed that the higher calorie breakfast and lower calorie dinner resulted in a 20% improvement in blood glucose levels (measured by area under the curve) compared to the small breakfast and large dinner day.

The research also showed that the larger breakfast plan was associated with higher levels of insulin and GLP-1. Whilst higher levels of insulin are often associated with greater potential for weight gain and insulin resistance, the higher levels of GLP-1 may offset the negative aspects of higher insulin levels.

The results suggest that having a small dinner in exchange for a larger, albeit not excessively large, breakfast may help overall with blood glucose levels for people with type 2 diabetes.