I love breakfast.
It is exceptionally rare for me to miss breakfast, and when I do, I am in a prickly mood most of the day, ravenous by mid-morning, and making poor food choices by lunch. And it’s not just me.
Research has shown that breakfast skippers have an overall poor diet quality and make lousy food choices throughout the day compared with breakfast consumers. Not surprisingly, breakfast skipping is strongly associated with an increased likelihood of weight gain.
Thus, one could argue, breakfast may very well be the most important meal of the day.
While simply having breakfast is great, what you have for breakfast can make a big difference.
Here are the top 3 ways to ensure you get your day off to a good start.
- Load up on fiber
I’ve previously discussed how having a breakfast high in fiber may be more satiating for a smaller number of calories, and thus may be one important way to help manage hunger and thus caloric intake. I’ve also discussed another study showing that a breakfast high in fiber and with a low glycemic index (the degree to which an ingested food causes a spike in blood glucose levels) may enhance fat oxidation during a subsequent bout of exercise.
- Don’t forget the protein
Studies have shown that consuming breakfasts high in protein is associated with decreased appetite over the following hours and a reduced caloric intake during lunch by comparison to low-protein breakfasts. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also found that a high protein breakfast curbs evening snacking by comparison to normal-protein breakfast in overweight or obese young women who normally skipped breakfast.
- Don’t be shy with the calories
This point may seem counterintuitive, but let me explain. A study published late last year compared two 1400kcal weight loss diets in a group of overeweight or obese women with the metabolic syndrome: high-calorie breakfast (700kcal breakfast, 500kcal lunch, and 200kcal dinner) versus high-calorie dinner (200kcal breakfast, 500kcal lunch, and 700kcal dinner). Over a period of 12 weeks, the women eating the hearty breakfast showed over a 2-fold greater weight loss (8.7 vs. 3.6 kg) and reduction in waist circumference (8.5 vs. 3.9 cm) by comparison to the women eating a hearty dinner.
What’s more, the women in the high-calorie breakfast group showed better improvements in most metabolic markers, including fasting glucose, insulin, insulin sensitivity, and triglyceride levels. In fact, while mean triglyceride levels decreased by 33.6% in the high-calorie breakfast group, they increased by 14.6% in the high-calorie dinner group. Finally, women eating a big breakfast reported greater satiety and less hunger throughout the day.
So what will you have for breakfast tomorrow?
My current go-to breakfast consists of ~175g of plain 4% Greek yogurt, with a couple tablespoons of granola, and a handful of fruit (most common: apple, bannana, blackberries, raspberries, mango). If I’m feeling particularly hungry that morning, I may add a poached egg or two. So on the low end of the spectrum, I’m getting approximately 20g of protein (yogurt + granola), up to 30g (~5g per egg) on the higher end if I decide to include a couple of eggs.
News source: Public Library of Science.
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