Photo of a healthy breakfast
In women with PCOS, fertility problems could be improved simply by changing the timing of their main meal

Fertility problems? A big breakfast could help

2 October, 2013

Natural Health News — You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.’ Now a new study has found that, in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, following this advice could have a positive impact on infertility.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a common disorder affecting approximately 6-10% of woman of reproductive age.

Women with the disorder are typically insulin resistant – their bodies produce an overabundance of insulin to deliver glucose from the blood into the muscles. This insulin resistance leads to an increase in male sex hormones (or androgens) such as testosterone, and can also cause menstrual irregularities, hair loss on the scalp though increase in body hair, acne, fertility problems and future diabetes.

Timing counts

The new study, which involved 60 women over a 12-week period, examined whether meal times have an impact on the health of woman with menstrual irregularities due to PCOS. The women, who were between the ages of 25 to 39, were thin with a BMI (body mass index) of less than 23 and suffered from PCOS.

The Israeli researchers divided the women into two groups and allowed them to consume about 1,800 calories a day. The difference between the groups was the timing of their largest meal.

In one group the women had a 980 calorie breakfast, a 640 calorie lunch and a 190 calorie dinner. In the other the women had a 190 calorie breakfast, a 640 calorie lunch and a 980 calorie dinner.

As opposed to looking at nutrient content, the purpose of this fascinating study was to examine whether the timing of calorie intake affects insulin resistance and the increase in androgens among woman suffering from PCOS. The women kept records of exactly what they ate.

Improvements in insulin resistance

The findings, recently published in the journal Clinical Science showed improved results for the group that consumed a high calorie breakfast. Glucose and insulin levels decreased by 7% and 54% respectively, while the ‘dinner’ group showed no changes.

Another finding showed that among the ‘breakfast’ group, testosterone levels decreased by nearly 50%, while in the ‘dinner’ group level stayed neutral.

In addition, there was a much higher rate of ovulating woman amongst those women who had a good breakfast, compared to the ‘dinner’ group, showing that eating a hearty breakfast leads to an increase in the level of fertility among woman with PCOS.

According to lead researchers Prof. Oren Froy, director of the Nutrigenomics and Functional Foods Research Center, at 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.”