6 Proven Ways Eating Breakfast Can Help You Lose Weight
Even though the term "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" was debunked as a marketing strategy, the truth of the matter is…breakfast is still very important. In fact, there are numerous ways sitting down with a plate of eggs and toast can help you reach your health goals—including your goals of weight loss. Experts and research studies have proven how eating breakfast can help you lose weight long term, turning the famous slogan back from fiction into fact.
Some of the ways breakfast can help with your weight loss goals include helping you get enough protein, fiber, and healthy fats, as well as helping you to stay energized. But the important thing to note with these benefits is that the type of breakfast you eat matters. Eating a balanced, nutrient-dense breakfast is going to benefit you more than one that is full of added sugars and zero nutrients.
What if you don't want to eat breakfast?
"If you are not a breakfast person, however, don't fret," says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. "Children should most certainly eat breakfast when they wake up before heading to school (even virtual school!). However, adults don't have to eat breakfast right away in the morning if they are not hungry. They are better off waiting to eat as opposed to shoveling some food in."
Nevertheless, eating breakfast can result in weight loss overall, which means it's still good to have a little something in the morning to hold you over until lunch.
"I would recommend eating something—even a snack or a mini breakfast—within several hours of waking up to keep blood sugar steady," says Young. "A yogurt and berries or an apple with two teaspoons of peanut butter, for example, would be great options. Including protein in the morning is best for weight loss as it's super filling."
So, if you have the time and energy to make yourself a healthy breakfast, here are some of the amazing weight loss benefits this morning meal can bring you. Read on, then try these 20 Healthy Weight Loss Breakfast Recipes for inspiration.
6 Weight Loss Benefits of Eating Breakfast
Starting your day with a healthy, nutrient-rich breakfast can aid your weight loss goals in the following ways.
Eating breakfast can give you energy.
One of the most enjoyable benefits you can get from eating breakfast—aside from getting to consume some of your favorite foods—is that this morning meal can help sustain your energy levels throughout the day. According to the Cleveland Clinic, breakfast provides your body with the energy it needs to perform at its best.
"Breakfast will help you stay focused and alert, enhancing overall physical and mental performance, thus allowing you to be more productive," says Young.
Although this isn't a direct link to weight loss, having more energy throughout the day can help you lose weight because you may feel more alert and motivated to accomplish your workout goals or cook yourself a healthy meal. When we are feeling sluggish, exhausted, or lethargic, we may be more inclined to skip a workout or reach for junk food.
Young says to just make sure it's a nutritious breakfast you're starting your day with, one that "includes a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats," she says.
Having this balance of nutrients is important because breakfasts that consist only of refined sugars like donuts, muffins, etc., will not energize you and can actually have the opposite effect on your energy levels. According to the journal Obesity, diets with high refined sugar intake can lead to more fatigue or feelings of sluggishness.
It can keep you feeling full.
It may seem obvious, but consuming calories first thing in the morning can help fill you up and control your appetite throughout the rest of the morning hours and can set you up well for the rest of the day.
"Breakfast prevents the feeling of extreme hunger during the day—something that can often lead to unhealthy food choices," says Young. "Eating breakfast also makes you feel satiated for longer and helps to control portion sizes for the rest of the meals," she adds, which can directly help with your weight loss goals because you'll be consuming fewer empty calories.
Young also adds that "Eating breakfast can help you lose weight since you are creating a sense of structure and not waiting till you are ravenous to eat, which tends to lead you to eat too much," says Young.
A study published in Current Developments in Nutrition found that compared with those who skipped breakfast, participants who ate breakfast had increased satiety and improved appetite.
The key to feeling full after eating breakfast is incorporating all of the key elements you'll need for a healthy meal: protein, healthy fat, and fiber-rich carbohydrates. If you include foods from each of these groups in your meals, you'll feel full for hours after.
Eating breakfast can help you avoid night-time cravings.
"As a registered dietitian, I have listened to hundreds of people tell me what they eat, and hands down, people that skip breakfast typically crave carbs at night," says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook.
"A breakfast of high fiber carbohydrates and protein sets your blood sugar on a steady pace for the day and can help you ward off cravings later. While many people think skipping breakfast saves them calories, they often end up eating those calories back in junk later in the day," she adds.
You can get more fiber.
Eating breakfast gives you the opportunity to add more fiber to your day, a nutrient that is crucial for weight loss.
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition says that fiber is linked to greater weight loss and adherence to diet, and the Mayo Clinic states that high-fiber foods are more filling than many other types of food, which means you can feel full for fewer calories.
Luckily, most healthy breakfast foods are surprisingly high in fiber! Oatmeal, whole-grain bread, fruit, and even some cereals are all great sources of fiber in the morning. Plus, adding a third meal to your day instead of just lunch and dinner gives you more of a chance to meet your fiber needs.
"Many Americans do not meet the requirement for fruits and veggies, and they are a great source of fiber," says Jinan Banna, PhD, RD. "Fiber is key in helping you to stay full to prevent overeating while trying to lose weight. Fiber contributes little in the way of calories to the diet. Try adding fresh fruit to cereal at breakfast to add fiber."
You'll get even more of a boost in protein.
Along with getting that boost of fiber, your breakfast can be another opportunity to get a sufficient amount of protein for the day.
According to a study published by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, higher protein diets have shown a great effect on fullness compared to participants who ate a lower protein diet. Not only that, but a high-protein diet is linked to greater weight loss because of its positive effect on metabolism and satiety, and its ability to lower hunger hormones and overall food intake.
When it comes to how much protein you should take in, Goodson recommends getting at least 20 to 30 grams of protein in your breakfast, along with a fiber-rich carbohydrate and a healthy fat source.
Shannon Henry, RD with EZCare Clinic, recommends eggs or yogurt as a nourishing high-protein breakfast. She points out how both of these foods can increase fullness and reduce food intake later in the day, which can enhance your weight loss overall.
You can also get a boost in healthy fats.
Breakfast foods like avocado, nuts, eggs, and smoked salmon contain healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, which have been linked to appetite control and satiety—something that can directly help with your weight loss goals.
According to a report published in the journal Foods, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can both help regulate major hunger hormones, resulting in more appetite control.
A previous version of this story was published on May 18, 2021. It has been updated to include additional copy and proofreading revisions, additional research, and updated contextual links.
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