Background: Meal skipping has become an increasing trend of the modern lifestyle that may lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.Objective: We investigated whether the timing of meal skipping impacts these risks by affecting circadian regulation of energy balance, glucose metabolism, and postprandial inflammatory responses.Design: In a randomized controlled crossover trial, 17 participants [body mass index (in kg/m2): 23.7 ± 4.6] underwent 3 isocaloric 24-h interventions (55%, 30%, and 15% carbohydrate, fat, and protein, respectively): a breakfast skipping day (BSD) and a dinner skipping day (DSD) separated by a conventional 3-meal-structure day (control). Energy and macronutrient balance was measured in a respiration chamber. Postprandial glucose, insulin, and inflammatory responses in leukocytes as well as 24-h glycemia and insulin secretion were analyzed.Results: When compared with the 3-meal control, 24-h energy expenditure was higher on both skipping days (BSD: +41 kcal/d; DSD: +91 kcal/d; both P < 0.01), whereas fat oxidation increased on the BSD only (+16 g/d; P < 0.001). Spontaneous physical activity, 24-h glycemia, and 24-h insulin secretion did not differ between intervention days. The postprandial homeostasis model assessment index (+54%) and glucose concentrations after lunch (+46%) were, however, higher on the BSD than on the DSD (both P < 0.05). Concomitantly, a longer fasting period with breakfast skipping also increased the inflammatory potential of peripheral blood cells after lunch.Conclusions: Compared with 3 meals/d, meal skipping increased energy expenditure. In contrast, higher postprandial insulin concentrations and increased fat oxidation with breakfast skipping suggest the development of metabolic inflexibility in response to prolonged fasting that may in the long term lead to low-grade inflammation and impaired glucose homeostasis. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02635139.


energy balance; insulin sensitivity; macronutrient oxidation; meal frequency; meal skipping.

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