Eating a big breakfast may help women with fertility problems

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st October 2013

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). PCOS affects between 6 and 10 per cent 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.

Study method

The study, which was carried out at Wolfson Medical Centre, 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 women kept records of their daily food intake.

Researchers wanted to examine whether the schedule of calorie intake affected insulin resistance and the increase in androgens among women suffering from PCOS.

The findings showed improved results for the group that consumed a big breakfast. Glucose levels and insulin resistance decreased by 8 per cent, while the dinner group showed no changes. Among the breakfast group, testosterone (an androgen) decreased by nearly 50 per cent, while the dinner group level stayed the same.

There was also a much higher rate of ovulating women within the breakfast group compared to the dinner group.

“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 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.

Other authors involved in the study included Professor Daniela Jocabovitz and Dr Julio Weinstein from Tel Aviv University and Wolfson Medical Centre.

A big breakfast may help with fertility problems