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Worst Breakfast Habits for a Flat Belly, Say Dietitians

Having this habits can cause belly bloat and weight gain—especially on your belly.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Research has demonstrated time and time again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why? Besides increased alertness and concentration and having a higher quality diet, it can also help you lose belly fat or attain a flatter, bloat-free tummy.

"Many of breakfast's benefits relate to reducing belly fat. Eating breakfast helps kick-starts metabolism and in doing so, reduces the risk for obesity," says Lauri Wright, PhD, RDN, LD, FADA, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "In fact, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey demonstrated that breakfast eaters were more likely to have a BMI under 25."

If you're looking for a flatter belly, you also want to avoid bloat.

"Bloating can be caused by a number of factors including diet, hormones and certain medical conditions like food allergies or intolerances," says Amber Pankonin, MS, RD, LMNT, registered dietitian and founder of food blog Stirlist. "In order to reduce bloat through diet, it's important to eat a high protein breakfast with some fiber to help reduce constipation. Consuming foods that are high in sugar for breakfast can leave you feeling unsatisfied and hungry."

Fiber is also a belly-fat buster.

"People who eat breakfast have a significantly higher intake of fiber, and fiber acts as nature's appetite suppressant," says Dr. Wright. "So not only does eating breakfast jumpstart your metabolism, but it also can help you consume fewer calories over the course of the day."

Your breakfast habits can definitely impact your flat belly goals. Here are 6 habits that may be hindering them. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

You skip breakfast.

Displeased young woman doesn't want to eat her breakfast

"'Breaking the fast' is critically important to normalize appetite. Breakfast 'skippers' tend to overeat at later meals and snacks due to being overly hungry, which doesn't promote a flat belly," says Dr. Wright. "Breakfast should provide some lasting energy for the day ahead. If time is an issue, grab a hard-boiled egg with fresh fruit rather than not eating at all."

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You eat your breakfast too fast.

eat breakfast sandwich fast

"If you are eating too fast, this can certainly cause belly bloat," says Pankonin. "Digestion begins in the mouth and it's important to chew your food properly before swallowing. Shoving food in your mouth while trying to get out the door could lead to indigestion but it can also put you on a path to mindless eating, which might result in additional weight gain."

If you are looking to eat breakfast on the go, at least make sure you have healthy options: 26 Best Grab-and-Go Breakfast Foods.

You skimp on protein.

woman eating croissant with jam

"It's easy to load up on carbohydrates at breakfast with such foods like bagels, croissants, and cereals, but skimping on protein may cause low blood sugar and early hunger," says Dr. Wright. "Protein is critical for satiety and keeping your blood sugar stable for longer periods of time. Consider avocado spread on whole-wheat toast, Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, or a veggie omelet."

You munch on fat-free muffins or scones.

blueberry scone

"Pastry items that are marketed as fat-free can often be high in calories and carbohydrates and low in protein," says Pankonin. "It's important to balance carbohydrates with fat and protein at breakfast as this can provide the body with the nutrients it needs and also help reduce the urge to snack before lunch."

You choose lots of pre-packaged breakfast choices.

yogurt parfait

"These foods have the appearance of being healthy, most are packed with added sugar. Pre-flavored oats can contain upwards of 20 grams of added sugar, granola can have 17 grams of added sugar, and some breakfast bars have 13 grams of added sugar," says Dr. Wright. "The amount of added sugar delivers a lot of calories and worse, the energy within the sugar is short-lasting. After the 20-30 minutes of sugar is delivered, one can be left feeling shaky, tired, and yes – hungry. Opting for whole-grain cereals or oats self-flavored with almonds and berries will provide lasting energy (3-4 hours) packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals that will keep you satisfied and 'beat the bloat'."

You only drink lattes that are high in sugar for breakfast.

iced coffee
Nathan Dumlao/ Unsplash

"If you're only consuming coffee with sugar for breakfast, you might find yourself reaching for something else once you hit the office," says Pankonin. "Over time, this habit could lead to additional pounds on the scale if you're not keeping those calories from morning beverages and snacks in check."

You'll see what we're talking about when you read about The Unhealthiest Coffee Drinks in America.

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