The delicious scent of a sizzling omelet with bacon and cheese, the energizing fragrance of freshly squeezed orange juice or the comforting whiff of maple syrup over fluffy pancakes… For some, this is a dream come true when they rise and shine; for others, it is just sickening. Breakfast is not for everyone, but according to studies, it should be, especially if you are trying to shed down those extra pounds. Remember that saying that grandma probably told you as a child, “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”? Is that true? And does it mean that if you skip breakfast will you gain weight instead?
Well, yes and no. The truth is that our body uses energy for everything we do, including eating. Energy is needed to store food in our stomach, transport it to our small intestine, absorb it, and digest it. This, together with our metabolic rate and physical activity, determines our daily calorie intake. When we burn more calories than we consume, we end up losing weight. Studies show that eating a meal in the morning boosts the metabolism more than eating the same meal in the evening. Besides, without any food in the morning, people usually tend to reach for higher calorie meals at lunchtime simply because they are hungrier.
So stock up in those morning calories and make them count. Yes, you heard it right; more calories in the morning might lead to more efficient weight loss. According to a recent study, one group of people ate 700 calories at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch, and 200 calories at dinner, while another group ate 200 calories at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch, and 700 calories at dinner. Twelve weeks later, those who’d been eating a 700-calorie breakfast had lost two and a half times more weight than the other group, likely because your metabolism is at its most efficient in the morning.
That said, it doesn’t mean that you should gorge on tons of sugar donuts. “Healthy” is the key word here. Many breakfast meals are high in calories but low in protein. A meal balanced with important macronutrients, for example, almond butter and Greek yogurt with fruit, keeps your blood sugar steady, unlike a large cafe muffin, which can be equivalent to a piece of cake in calories. So let’s see what the experts recommend as the best breakfast food for weight loss.
Undisputedly the “breakfast king”, numerous studies have shown that eating eggs in the morning increases feelings of fullness, reduces calorie intake at the next meal and helps maintain steady blood sugar and insulin levels. In fact, dieters who ate eggs for breakfast felt fuller longer and lost more than twice as much weight as those who got the same amount of calories from a bagel for breakfast.
Eggs are also one of the best sources of choline, a nutrient that’s very important for brain and liver health, says Martha McKittrick, RD, CDN, CDE. In addition, egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants help prevent eye disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration. Eggs are also high in cholesterol, but they don’t raise cholesterol levels in most people.
Natural yogurt is well known to be very good for you, but Greek yogurt, in particular, appear to be the best. It is made by straining whey and other liquid from the curds, which produces a creamier yogurt that is more concentrated in protein. Yogurt and other dairy products can also help with weight control, because they increase levels of hormones that promote fullness.
A recent Harvard report published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed the top five foods that promote weight loss. Yogurt was one of them! Certain types of Greek yogurt are good sources of probiotics, like Bifidobacterium, which help your gut stay healthy. If you need a little extra sweetness, try topping it with berries or chopped fruit in order to increase the meal’s vitamin, mineral and fiber content.
Oatmeal is the best choice for cereal lovers. It’s made from ground oats, which contain a unique fiber called beta-glucan. This fiber also helps reduce cholesterol. Oats are also rich in antioxidants, which protect their fatty acids from becoming rancid. These antioxidants may also help protect heart health and decrease blood pressure.
Also, oatmeal can help you lose weight in two ways. First, it’s rich in fiber, which keeps you feeling fuller longer. Second, oatmeal-like bran is a “slow-release” carbohydrate. It doesn’t spike blood sugar as high as eating refined carbohydrates, and as a result, insulin levels don’t spike as high. Because insulin plays a role in signaling your body to store fat, having lower blood sugar levels may help you burn fat. Be careful though; oatmeal by itself doesn’t provide you with a balanced, higher-protein meal since one cup only contains about six grams of protein. To boost the protein content of an oatmeal breakfast, prepare it with milk instead of water or serve it with a side of eggs or a piece of cheese. Avoid packets of maple brown sugar or apple cinnamon instant oatmeal, because they seem healthy, but they contain lots of sugar and artificial colors.
Who doesn’t love fresh, ripe berries? They are a burst of flavor and packed with antioxidants. Most popular types include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. What you might not know is that they’re lower in sugar than most fruits, yet higher in fiber. Raspberries and blackberries each provide an impressive eight grams of fiber per cup. Being so low in sugar also means that they are low in calories as well. One cup of berries contains only 50-85 calories, depending on the type.
Berries are also packed with polyphenols, naturally occurring chemicals that aid weight loss and stop fat from forming. Also, berries have been shown to reduce markers of inflammation, prevent blood cholesterol from becoming oxidized, and keep the cells lining your blood vessels healthy. As they lack protein content though, an excellent way to add berries to your breakfast is to eat them with Greek yogurt and/or oatmeal.
Think of grapefruit — one of the best fruits for fat loss — as your breakfast appetizer. Other fruit juices, whether homemade or store-bought, may contain valuable immune-boosting nutrients, but they also contain a whole lot of calories without the fiber, protein, and healthy fats you need to feel satiated. “Even if you changed nothing else about your diet, eating half a grapefruit before each meal may help you lose up to a pound a week,” says Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN. “Researchers found that when obese people ate half a grapefruit before each meal, they dropped an average of 3.5 pounds over 12 weeks,” she says. How does that work? The tangy fruit helps lower insulin, a fat-storage hormone. It’s also 90 percent water, so it fills you up, and you eat less, explains Bannan.
To conclude, a healthy breakfast that will help you drop pounds needs to offer protein, fiber, and healthy fats. There is a big difference between eating sugary chocolate cereal and prepackaged muffin compared to natural Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. A high-protein breakfast can lead to guaranteed long-term weight loss. Science has proved it. Of people who’ve lost 30 pounds or more, 80% kept the weight off by eating a high-protein breakfast every day, according to a study done by The National Weight Control Registry. Eating a meal in the morning can also have a positive effect on your blood sugar concentration.
On the other hand, starting the day without breakfast is associated with a higher weight and an increase in fat mass. But this does not mean that you will automatically gain weight if you skip breakfast. These findings could also suggest that people who eat breakfast daily lead a healthier lifestyle in general. It doesn’t necessarily mean that eating breakfast alone protects you from obesity.Related: 10 Nutritious Facts About Grapefruits