In the New Year, many people choose to focus their New Year's resolutions around eating healthier, exercising more, and weight loss. For some, this may include changing their breakfast habits. Skipping breakfast is an everyday habit for some, while others cannot start their day without certain breakfast staples – coffee, oatmeal, fruit, donuts, eggs, etc. So who is right? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day, and, if so, what exactly should we be eating to kick-start our days?
Do we have to eat breakfast to lose weight?
It depends. Are you exercising in the morning? If so, it is advisable to eat within an hour after your workout to help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores.
Are you trying to lose weight? A lot of people think if they eat one less meal a day, especially breakfast, then it can help them with weight loss. In 2014, a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested this theory and assessed the effectiveness of participants being randomized to eat breakfast or skip breakfast. Contrary to popular belief, the study concluded that whether the participants ate breakfast or skipped breakfast made no difference in terms of weight loss in free-living adults who were attempting to lose weight. Although this study did not show a significant difference in weight loss, certain foods you start your day eating have been shown to help maintain weight. A University of Missouri-Columbia study showed that protein-rich breakfasts prevent unhealthy snacking in the evening. If you are a late-night eater or someone who seems to experience a strong appetite throughout the day, eating a protein-rich breakfast may help stabilize your blood sugar and help keep your appetite in check.
What should we eat for breakfast?
Don't eat dessert for breakfast. Sugary cereals, pastries, and pancakes with extra syrup, are going to be high in calories and can cause a blood sugar dip shortly after eating them. This could have you looking for something more to eat throughout the day. If you do pick a breakfast cereal or a similar item, choose one that is made with whole grains (100% whole grain is ideal), has a good amount of fiber (look for varieties that have at least 5 grams per serving), and less sugar (try for 7 grams of sugar of less per serving).
Just like every meal of the day, breakfast should be balanced. Protein, carbohydrates, and fat should be included in your breakfast meals.
Examples of balanced breakfast meals:
Avocado toast (fat + carb) and scrambled eggs (protein)
½ cup of oatmeal (carb) with milk (protein) and walnuts (fat)
Greek yogurt (protein) with almonds (fat) and fresh fruit (carb)
Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD is a nutrition scientist and registered dietitian at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, University of Colorado Denver. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram (@dr.michellecardel), and Twitter @MichelleCardel for daily nutrition tips!
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