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8 Ways Your Breakfast Is Making You Gain Weight, Say Experts

Set yourself up for success by avoiding these mistakes at the beginning of the day.

Numerous experts say that eating a good, balanced breakfast is one of the best ways to set yourself up for a successful healthy day of eating. Why? Because a good breakfast helps you to feel full and satisfied, feeds your body the proper nutrients it needs, and can give you all-day energy. Yet while breakfast is an important meal to eat—especially when you're setting healthy breakfast habits for yourself—it's also important to avoid the ways the breakfast is making you gain weight. This is why we spoke with a few registered dietitians and health experts to learn about the pitfalls to avoid when it comes to breakfast making you gain weight, and the proper habits to follow instead.

Here's are the ways your breakfast is making you gain weight and how to fix them, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Not adding protein to your breakfast.

butter toast

"Not having enough protein in the morning can leave you feeling unsatisfied later on. This may consequently lead to consuming excess calories later on in the day," says Mackenzie Burgess, registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices. "Be sure to pair your favorite breakfast items with lean protein to keep you feeling fuller longer. For example, pair a banana with nut butter energy bites or a bowl of cereal with a hard-boiled egg."

Or you can try one of these 19 High Protein Breakfasts That Keep You Full.

Eating high-sugar foods.

apple cider donuts on cooling rack
Jennifer Tatum/Shutterstock

"When you wake up, try not to eat anything with high sugar or saturated fat as that can impact your liver health," says Certified Personal Trainer, Addy O'Neal who co-wrote The Total Body Functional Program.  "You should also eat healthy and whole foods as it will help increase your metabolism throughout the day."

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Only eating carbs.


"A breakfast centered on carbs—and solely carbs—can leave us feeling ravenous in no time," says Molly Kimball, R.D., CSSD. "Even seemingly 'healthy' options. Think cereal, milk, and fruit, or whole-grain waffles with sugar-free syrup, fresh fruit smoothies, and of course oh-so-many brands of yogurt and granola and cereal bars. These are carbs, carbs, and more carbs, with little or no protein or fat for staying power."

"I'm not saying that carbs are 'bad',  but definitely round them out with protein and/or fat," says Kimball. "And we can often benefit from dialing back the amount of carbs and adding in protein and/or fat instead. An example would be: instead of two waffles with sugar-free syrup, opt for one whole-grain waffle with nut butter. Or one slice of whole-grain bread with a schmear of avocado or hummus, topped with an egg. Instead of cereal and milk, try fiber-rich dry cereal sprinkled over plain Greek yogurt (2% versus fat-free)."

Or boost the protein in your favorite breakfast carb with our Tasty, Protein-Packed Waffle Recipe!

Skipping breakfast entirely.

Woman with empty plate at wooden table, top view

"Skipping breakfast doesn't always lead to weight gain, however, if skipping breakfast leads to you overeating at lunch or dinner, then that could lead to weight gain," says Sandy Younan Brikho, MDA, RDN, and founder of The Dish On Nutrition. "There are few ways to avoid this: If you aren't super hungry in the morning, eat at least a snack that way you are satisfied until lunchtime and are less likely to overeat. If you are rushing in the morning and skip breakfast because of a lack of time, then I would recommend preparing quick breakfast items that you can grab within 5 minutes before leaving the house. This will help you incorporate breakfast more easily and decrease overeating later in the day."

Not eating a balanced meal.

Plate of pancakes

"If you are not having a balanced meal at breakfast then this could lead to weight gain," says Younan Brikho. "For example, if you are eating only pancakes, then you are not having any protein or fiber. Protein and fiber help with fullness and prevent overeating later in the day. One way to improve this meal is by adding protein-like 2 sausage links and a fiber-filled food like a banana to the pancakes and top it off with some delicious manuka honey as a healthy alternative to syrup. How to avoid this: Include 15 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast, and include fiber-rich foods like fruits and veggies."

Here are 9 Warning Signs You're Not Eating Enough Fiber.

Only eating cereal.

eating cereal
Ryan Pouncy/ Unsplash

"[Cereals] contain, for the most part, refined grains and artificial nutrients added," says Silvia Carli, R.D with 1AND1 LIFE. "They are also usually high in sugar that will provide an immediate burst of energy but cause a crash pretty soon unless combined with some protein and or healthy fats."

So make sure to avoid these Unhealthiest Kids' Cereals On Grocery Shelves.

Restricting too many calories.

whole almonds cutting board

"Starting your day with an extra small breakfast can set you up to feel famished later on, eventually leading to you overeating during the evening hours," Rachel Fine MS, RD, CSSD, CDN, and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition. "This is a common issue especially for those who tend not to feel hungry in the morning or who are balancing a busy schedule and work commute. To combat this, think about balance: a breakfast that incorporates a source of protein, carbs, AND fat. For example, instead of just eating egg whites, cook a whole egg, and pair it with sliced avocado and whole-grain bread. When paired with energizing carbohydrates from whole grain bread, heart-healthy unsaturated fats from avocado and protein from eggs will keep you feeling fuller and more satisfied until your next meal."

Eating too quickly.

man rushing through quick breakfast

"Eating quickly and haphazardly can lead to increased calorie intake," says Shannon Henry, RD from EZ Care Clinic. Henry recommends incorporating protein into your breakfast to keep you feel full throughout the day and to make sure you aren't waiting to eat too late in the day or it will negatively affect your energy levels.

Need easy breakfast ideas? Check out our list of 91+ Best Healthy Breakfast Recipes for Weight Loss.

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten