Before you tuck into that big breakfast of bacon and eggs, hash browns and fried tomatoes, you may want to think again -- new research has found that fat can reach your waistline within just three hours of a meal.

Researchers at the University of Oxford analyzed how long it takes to convert fat from a meal to fatty tissue and found that an average person can add the equivalent of up to three teaspoons of fat to their waist mere hours after they have eaten, The (London) Sunday Times reported.

Prior to the discovery, published in the Physiological Reviews journal, scientists had believed that the process took a far longer time.

"We found that, after eating a meal, the first fat from it enters the blood about an hour later," Oxford University's professor of metabolic medicine, Fredrik Karpe, said.

"By the time three to four hours have passed, most of it has been incorporated into our adipose tissue, mostly in the shorter-term fat stores around our waists."

Karpe and his fellow researcher, Oxford colleague Keith Frayn, found that fatty tissue stored around the waist was only short-term, and could be used for energy during exercise.

However, if the individual continued to eat excessively, the fat would then be transferred to the hips, buttocks and thighs -- for long-term storage.