It may seem as if skipping meals would help you lose weight, but the opposite is actually true. Research has demonstrated that eating breakfast is one of the most important habits that contribute to successful, long-term weight loss.*Though it may seem counter-intuitive, people who eat breakfast every day actually consume fewer calories overall, ingest less saturated fat and cholesterol, and are better nourished overall than those who skip breakfast.
So how does eating breakfast encourage weight loss?
The name breakfast literally means, “break fast”. Technically, while you’ve been sleeping for eight hours, you’ve been fasting. While fasting, your blood sugar drops, which causes hunger and lower energy levels. We need to eat breakfast in the morning in order to boost blood sugar and return our energy levels to normal.
When we don’t eat breakfast, blood sugar drops even lower. This can trigger cravings, which leads to snacking on unhealthy foods later in the morning, or eating larger than usual portions at lunch or dinner.
Essentially, eating breakfast in the morning keeps your blood sugar more even for the rest of the day, prevents the temptation to snack on fatty, sugary foods, and keeps your metabolism burning. And if those benefits aren’t enough to motivate you to eat breakfast, remember that having more energy will translate into more regular and successful exercise habits.
But wait! All breakfasts are not created equally.
If you regularly chow down on three cream-filled donuts each morning, you probably won’t reap the weight loss benefits of eating breakfast. To make responsible breakfast food choices, remember these rules:
- choose foods from three or more food groups
- make sure to include protein, because it keeps you feeling full longer
- include whole grains for their fiber and vitamin content – just remember to watch out for overly sugary cereals
- include a serving of low-glycemic fruit such as berries, pears, or apples
- read the labels on energy bars. Yes, they’re a great choice when you’re in a hurry, but some are loaded with sugar and are basically glorified candy bars.
If you find it difficult to change your routine, try eating breakfast on weekends, and then gradually add it to your weekday routine. Soon you will notice that you feel better and snack less throughout the rest of the day, and your weight loss efforts become more productive.
*Hill J, Wing R. The Weight Control Registry. The Permanente Journal, 2003 Vol 7(3)