What time should you eat breakfast?

A French study finds early is best. In the study, eating breakfast after 9 a.m. increased the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 59% compared to people who eat breakfast before 8.

Researchers at ISGlobal, an institution supported by “la Caixa” Foundation, followed more than 100,000 French participants. Researchers concluded that the risk of diabetes was reduced by changing not only what is consumed but when.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with modifiable risk factors, such as an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and smoking.

But another factor may be important: the times at which we eat.

“We know that meal timing plays a key role in regulating circadian rhythms and glucose and lipid control, but few studies have investigated the relationship between meal timing or fasting and type 2 diabetes,” said Anna Palomar-Cros, ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study.

In this study, the ISGlobal team joined a team from INSERM, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.

They investigated the association between meal frequency and timing and the incidence of Type 2 diabetes among 103,312 adults (79% women) from the French NutriNet-Santé cohort.

Participants recorded what they ate and drank over a 24-hour period on three nonconsecutive days, as well as the timing of their meals. The research team averaged the dietary records for the first two years of follow-up and assessed participants’ health over an average of seven years.

Researchers identified 963 new cases of Type 2 diabetes during the study. The risk of developing the disease was significantly higher in the group of people who regularly ate breakfast after 9 a.m., compared to those who ate breakfast before 8 a.m.

The findings were consistent with two earlier meta-analyses that found that skipping breakfast increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes due to its effect on glucose and lipid control.

The research team also found that a late dinner (after 10 p.m.) seemed to increase the risk, while eating more frequently (about five times a day) was associated with a lower disease incidence.

In contrast, prolonged fasting is only beneficial if it is done by having an early breakfast (before 8 a.m.) and an early dinner.

What are some healthier breakfasts to have before 8 a.m. for those who have diabetes or prediabetes or simply want to make healthy choices?

Make sure you include protein. You can try an omelet with vegetables; avocado toast topped with an egg; Greek yogurt with berries; high protein, high fiber cereal with skim milk; a grab-and-go protein shake; a breakfast quesadilla with black beans, tomatoes and scrambled eggs; or a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread.

The bottom line is breakfast is important, and the earlier you can eat, the better.


Q: Can someone with Type 2 diabetes eat pasta?

A: With the right preparation and portions, you can still enjoy pasta for dinner without sending your blood sugar soaring or derailing any weight-loss goals.

In one large study, women with Type 2 diabetes who a 50-gram serving of pasta experience lower spikes in blood sugar than they did after eating equal portions of white bread, potato or rice.

The key is to watch portion sizes and prepare the pasta mindfully, limiting certain toppings and mix-ins such as cheese, meat and sauce. Choose whole-grain pasta that offers more fiber and helps blunt blood sugar spikes.

And center your pasta dish on nonstarchy vegetables, which are also high in fiber. It also helps to skip the creamy sauce in favor of an oil or tomato-based sauce.

Another option is to try veggie noodles, such as spiralized zucchini.

Perhaps most important is to practice portion control. Food portions, especially restaurant portions, are much larger today than they were 20 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Take half home or share a dish with a friend.

Shrimp Stir-Fry

Here’s a quick weeknight dinner that’s easy on the calories. Feel free to add other vegetables as well. The recipe is from the Mayo Clinic Diet.


  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ⅛ teaspoon grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2½ cups (about ½ pound) fresh sugar snap peas
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 12 ounces medium-sized raw shrimp, peeled and deveined


In large skillet, sauté garlic and ginger in oil until fragrant. Stir in peas and chopped bell pepper. Sauté until tender-crisp.

Stir in shrimp. Cook over medium heat 3-4 minutes until shrimp are just opaque in centers.

Serve with steamed brown rice


Serves 4

Per serving: 156 calories, 19 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fat (0.7 grams saturated), 129 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber, 136 milligrams sodium

Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois, and the current president of the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Contact her at charfarg@aol.com, and follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd. The opinions expressed are her own.