Far too many people these days swear by the practice of eating nothing in the morning. News flash: If that sounds like you, you're not doing your body any favors.
According to a massive study published in The Journal of Nutrition, a team of researchers tracked the eating habits and BMIs of more than 50,000 adults over the course of seven years and made a compelling case for making a hearty breakfast the cornerstone of a healthy diet. All told, people who started their days with scrambled eggs, a bowl of yogurt and fruit, and other healthy meals actually "experienced a decreased BMI compared to breakfast skippers," the researchers concluded.
According to another study conducted by the Cornell University Food & Brand lab, nearly 100 percent of 147 slim individuals surveyed (well, 97 percent of them, to be exact) confessed to being regular breakfast eaters. (For some ideas of what to make, check out these 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.)
"One important takeaway from this study is that a very high rate of slim people actually eat breakfast instead of skipping, which is consistent with previous research on the importance of breakfast," wrote the study's lead author, Anna-Leena Vuorinen, of VTT Technical Research Centre Of Finland and visiting scholar at Cornell.
But get this: When you eat your breakfast can be as important as what you're eating. According to many experts, it's fairly quickly after you rise and shine. In fact, according to Matt Tenneberg, CSCS, of Arcadia Health and Wellness, in Phoenix, it should be exactly within thirty minutes of waking up.
"This will replenish your body from the night's sleep and allow it to function properly throughout the day," he says. "When you are hungry, your body stops burning calories. That means that your metabolism will dramatically slow down. You need to constantly be replenishing your body's stores to allow it to burn normally."
So what should you be eating in the AM? By now you probably know that you shouldn't be eating tons of refined carbs, saturated fats, and breakfast foods that are ultra-high in sugar. You should be eating whole foods that are high in protein, low in unhealthy fats, rich in fiber, and ultimately lower in calories. (For a complete menu of healthy breakfasts, simply see here.)
It's worth noting that what you're drinking matters, as well. If you're looking to drop a few pounds, it's crucial that you guzzle some good-old H2O in the morning alongside your breakfast—and perhaps even earlier. After all, you lose water all day, every day—through sweating, going to the bathroom, etc.—and you need to rehydrate after waking up from a long rest. According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water (about two tall glasses) in the morning, participants' metabolic rates increased by 30 percent.
So remember: If you want to drop pounds, don't hit your snooze button, grab a glass of water, and be sure to fuel up within 30 minutes! And for more amazing tips to help guide you on your personal weight-loss journey, don't miss these 200 Greatest Weight Loss Tips! and sign up for our newsletter for the latest news.