Eating Breakfast Helps Weight Loss

healthy breakfast food groups It may seem like skipping a meal would help you lose weight, but it turns out the opposite is true. Eating breakfast actually helps with weight loss and long-term weight management.

The National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have maintained weight loss of at least 30 pounds for more than a year, reported in 2003 that eating breakfast is one of the four most important behaviors that the study subjects share. (The other three are eating a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, monitoring weight and maintaining a high level of activity). Breakfast eaters tend to eat fewer calories, less saturated fat and cholesterol and have better overall nutritional status than breakfast skippers.1

Link Between Breakfast and Weight Loss

When you skip breakfast, your blood sugar drops even lower. As a result, you become hungry and have less energy. This sets you up to impulsively snack in the morning—often on high-fat sweets—or to eat extra servings or bigger portions at lunch or dinner. A study from 2005 found evidence that people who skip breakfast compensate later in the day with more refined carbohydrates and fats and fewer fruits and vegetables.2 But when you eat breakfast, your body feels nourished and satisfied, making you less likely to overeat the rest of the day.

Eating breakfast every day may reduce the risk for obesity and insulin resistance -- an early sign of developing diabetes – by as much as 35 to 50 percent, according to a study presented at a 2003 American Heart Association conference.3

Whole-Grain Cereal Best Breakfast Choice for Weight Loss

Breakfast choices are endless, but whole-grain cereals top the list as the best choice for weight control and improving health.

The Iowa Women’s Health Study in 2007 found that women who ate whole-grains at least twice per day had a 30 percent lower risk of dying from an inflammation-related condition over a 17-year period than those who rarely or never ate whole grains.4 Look for cereals that list whole grain or bran as their first ingredient and contain at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Bran cereal and oatmeal contain at least 7 grams of fiber per serving, or about 25 percent of the recommended daily intake.

Making Time for Breakfast is Making Time for Your Health

Time is at a premium for most of us. But your health is worth making time for what may be the most important meal of the day.

To make the best breakfast, choose foods from three or more food groups. Foods with protein—like eggs, peanut butter or yogurt—take longer to digest and will provide sustained energy and keep you feeling full longer.

Here are quick, tasty and nutritious choices to get your day off to a good start:

  • Milk and whole-grain cereal and a piece of fruit
  • Instant oatmeal topped with raisins and milk
  • Whole-grain granola topped with fruit and yogurt
  • Peanut butter spread on whole-wheat toast or a small bagel
  • Fruit smoothie made with yogurt
  • Cheese and whole-grain crackers and a piece of fruit
  • A handful of almonds or walnuts, a banana and a glass of milk or latte
  • Do not overlook leftovers – leftover stir-fry or a bowl of soup zapped in the microwave can be tasty and tide you over to lunch

Energy bars have exploded in popularity. Although they are convenient and may satisfy your hunger in a pinch, read the label. They may contain a variety of vitamins and other added nutrients, but they’re often low on fiber and can be loaded with as many calories as a candy bar!

If you never eat breakfast, try starting on the weekend when you have more time, then expand your routine to weekdays. You may be surprised how much easier your morning goes, and how much more healthfully you eat throughout the day!

1Hill J, Wing R. The Weight Control Registry. The Permanente Journal, 2003 Vol 7(3).
2Farshchi HR, Taylor MA, Macdonald IA. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(2):388-96.
3Pereira MA, Kartashov AI, Van Horn L. American Heart Association conference, 2003.
4Jacobs DR Jr, Andersen LF, Blomhoff R. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(6):1606-14.