Nutrition is an integral component of a healthy lifestyle and even more so when you’re trying to slim down. However, a common mistake happens all too frequently – we don’t focus enough on breakfasts. Most people put more thought into lunch or dinner, but breakfast is a meal that many of us eat on the go or skip entirely. Let’s change that, shall we? Healthy breakfasts can help you slim down and maintain your weight loss. Read on to find out how.
Most People Skip Breakfast
Even though breakfast is the most important meal and 93% of Americans agree, figures show only 44% of them are eating it every day (1).
People skip breakfast for a bunch of reasons. Most men and women don’t eat breakfast because they’re not hungry. Some people don’t feel like eating and others believe they have no time to do so. Women are more likely than men to skip breakfast because they’re busy or running late (2).
It’s also useful to mention some people decide to skip breakfast because they don’t know what to eat i.e. have no idea what to prepare every day.
Healthy Breakfast Prevents Overeating
Overeating is defined as consuming more calories than the body actually needs. As one of the biggest enemies of weight loss and its maintenance, overeating requires a proactive approach. To lose weight you need to consume a lower amount of calories than you burn. That said, to maintain weight loss calorie consumption should be equal to calorie expenditure (3). Since your goal is to maintain weight loss, you need to prevent overeating or getting back to old unhealthy habits.
People overeat for several reasons. The biggest problem is a Western diet which is high in calories and low in nutrients. Since these calories are “empty” they don’t keep you full long enough. This increases the frequency of eating and thereby the number of calories you consume.
Not all cases of overeating are tied to hunger. People may overeat due to stress, tiredness, sadness, eating disorders, and many other causes (4).
One way to control appetite and regulate calorie intake is to eat breakfast regularly, especially protein-rich meals. Evidence shows a protein-rich breakfast has the potential to improve appetite control and helps avoid overeating later in the day (5). Protein is, after all, among the most important nutrients for weight management. Studies confirm intake of a high-protein diet can improve weight management through a voluntary reduction in calorie intake, weight loss, and favorable changes in body composition. Protein works through appetite control and satiety (6). In other words, a protein-rich breakfast could fill you up, make you full for longer, and thereby help you control your appetite more effectively. This prevents overeating and makes it easier to maintain weight loss.
Otherwise, skipping breakfast could enhance your hunger and lead to excessive consumption of calories. As a result, it would be difficult to maintain your weight loss or continue to slim down.
Healthier Food Choices
Skipping meals is a common practice that most people do to maintain weight loss. A common belief is that the more meals you cut, the fewer calories you’re going to consume. In reality, it doesn’t work like that. What’s more, you can actually increase calorie intake that way due to unhealthy food choices.
Generally speaking, no breakfast means no energy for the body. At the same time, the brain doesn’t receive much-needed nutrients which can lead to a lack of motivation, fatigue, and other problems. Excessive hunger is also a common problem for persons who skip breakfast. When these things happen, you are more inclined to reach for something unhealthy like a donut or pizza (7). Repeating the same or similar scenario every day leads to excess calorie intake and weight gain.
On the other hand, a healthy breakfast could make you more mindful regarding food choices. You’ll choose your meals and foods wisely when you’re not too hungry. A Delicious, yet healthy breakfast supplies the body with the nutrients it needs for proper function. Let’s not forget breakfasts can also regulate your appetite. In turn, you are less likely to opt for junk food. Instead, you could put more thought into the selection of foods you eat during the remainder of the day. Instead of grabbing donuts or pizza, you may opt for salad during lunchtime. It becomes easier to control the intake of calories and maintain weight loss.
One study found skipping breakfast had a greater impact on BMI and waist circumference than eating about three hours before going to bed (8). Food is about energy. When we eat our energy levels go up, but if you don’t eat breakfast it doesn’t happen. The lack of energy leads to skipping workout appointments and other habits that may contribute to weight gain. On the other hand, a healthy breakfast can replenish the glycogen stores that supply muscles with immediate energy. As a result, you are more likely to stick to the workout routine or strive to be physically active in other ways.
Physical activity plays an important role in weight loss maintenance. Regular exercise burns calories and helps tone the body as you’re swimming down. But, we need to be active besides the gym. After a nice breakfast you probably head to work but try riding a bicycle there, or parking further away so you have to walk, use stairs instead of an elevator as much as you can.
There are tons of ways you can combine a healthy breakfast and weight loss maintenance. But they depend on your energy levels, so make sure to eat a nice meal every morning.
In order to slim down, we strive to speed up metabolism so that the body keeps burning calories at a faster rate. A fast metabolism is also necessary for weight loss maintenance. As the first meal after waking up, breakfast jumpstarts metabolism and thereby helps you lose more calories during the day.
On the flip side, skipping breakfast would slow down your metabolism. The reason is simple, skipping meals and being without food for prolonged periods pushes the body into survival mode. When that happens, the cells in the body crave food and you are more likely to overeat later.
Protein is the star of a healthy breakfast, similar to other meals. This nutrient has a much bigger thermic effect than carbs and fat. Higher thermic effects accelerate metabolism. Additionally, high protein intake can increase the number of calories you burn by 80 to 100 a day (9, 10, 11).
Stress is a part of life i.e. it’s a natural response to negative stimuli. The modern lifestyle is hectic and particularly stressful. Biologically speaking, stress means levels of the hormone cortisol have increased. Several factors can influence the levels of this hormone and food intake is one of them. The brain needs glucose for survival over the night.
In some cases, the amount of stored glycogen in the liver is insufficient to regulate blood glucose levels adequately. To solve this issue, the body increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Breakfast refills glycogen levels thereby decreasing cortisol. This can help manage stress, too.
So, if you skip breakfast or eat unhealthy foods, levels of cortisol may continue increasing and contribute to insulin resistance. Moreover, cortisol is associated with a higher level of abdominal fat (12).
Basically, eating an unhealthy breakfast can encourage the chain of events that make you more likely to store fat in the abdominal area. The same happens if you skip breakfast entirely. Therefore, to maintain weight loss you may want to opt for healthy, satiating breakfasts. Lowering cortisol can help manage stress, which is of particular importance in the modern age. Higher stress levels would, otherwise, contribute to unhealthy food choices that could make weight loss maintenance a lot more complicated.
How to Stop Skipping Breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast every day is an important strategy for the maintenance of weight loss. So, if you have a habit to skip breakfast and want to change it, these tips can help you out:
- Plan everything – people skip breakfast because they feel like they have no time or they’re out of ideas of what to prepare and eat. The solution to this problem is evident – plan everything. The more thorough your breakfast is planned, the more likely you are to eat it in the morning. In a nutshell, this plan should include what and where to eat. Your breakfast should be scheduled into a daily routine and become an integral component of your lifestyle .
- Wake up earlier – if you tend to skip breakfast because you’re in a hurry, then strive to go to bed 10 minutes earlier so that you can wake up 10 minutes earlier as well. That way you will have enough time to prepare and eat your breakfast without too much hassle.
- Prepare your breakfast the night before – probably the easiest way to avoid being in a hurry and skipping breakfast is to prepare the meal the night before. In the morning you can simply heat it and it’s ready. Additionally, you should also set the table including bowl, plate, and cutlery the night before as well.
What Should A Healthy Breakfast Contain?
While some people skip breakfast, others eat it regularly. The problem is that their breakfast isn’t, actually, healthy i.e. nutritious. As the first and most important meal of the day, breakfast should supply the body with important nutrients. These nutrients allow the body to function properly and they’re also necessary for the maintenance of your weight loss.
Below, you can see examples of nutritious foods and ingredients to add to your breakfast:
- Eggs – staple breakfast food, thanks to protein content they increase the feeling of fullness and decrease calorie intake at the next meal. Also, eggs help maintain blood sugar and insulin levels (13).
- Greek yogurt – abundant in protein, which can decrease the feeling of hunger
- Oatmeal – a great source of fiber that supports gut health and suppresses your appetite. Oats are also abundant in antioxidants and they may lower cholesterol levels .
- Chia seeds – these highly nutritious seeds prove to be an excellent source of fiber. Chia seeds are also high in antioxidants and may decrease inflammatory markers associated with heart disease (14).
- Berries – known for antioxidant content. They tend to be higher in fiber and lower in sugar than other fruits. Berries can decrease markers of inflammation too. It’s easy to add them to your breakfast. For instance, you can add berries to your Greek yogurt.
- Nuts – filling and preventing weight gain (15). Consumption of nuts can protect us from heart disease, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
- Green tea – among the healthiest beverages in the world. It contains caffeine (not too much) and thereby improves alertness and increases your metabolic rate.
- Protein shake – a great option for persons who want to have a nutritious, protein-rich breakfast on the go. After all, protein can suppress your appetite and make you more energetic.
- Fruit – it should be a major component of a healthy breakfast; strive to eat at least one piece of fruit whether it’s an apple or something else. Fruits are abundant in vitamins and minerals.
- Cottage cheese – a wonderful breakfast food, high in protein, accelerates metabolism and lowers feelings of hunger.
How to Maintain Weight Loss
After hard work to slim down many people regain lost pounds. Various factors contribute to this problem. For example, they stop working out, start eating unhealthy foods and abandon all strategies that helped them lose weight.
Weight loss maintenance is not as complicated as it may seem. The goal is to have a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly, and eat a well-balanced diet even when you achieve your target weight. Also, you may want to avoid restrictive weight-loss diets that would help you slim down a few pounds but cause the yo-yo effect right after.
Besides eating a healthy breakfast every day, you may want to ensure your other meals also contain enough protein. Strive to weigh yourself regularly so you’re aware of the progress and encourage weight control behaviors.
When it comes to exercise, you may want to do cardio and strength training, but not on the same day of course. To maintain your weight loss, you should strive to drink plenty of water during the day. It’s also useful to avoid sugar-laden beverages.
Get enough sleep to manage stress and replenish your energy levels.
Weight loss demands hard work. You need to change your lifestyle, exercise regularly, and ditch unhealthy foods from your daily menu. The role of nutrition in weight loss is immense. The same applies to weight loss maintenance too. It’s not always about what foods you eat. Having your meals regularly is equally important. For that reason, you should eat a healthy breakfast every day. Try not to skip your breakfast and always opt for healthy foods and ingredients. That way you can control appetite and calorie intake, boost energy levels, and maintain your weight loss properly. If you tend to skip breakfast or choose unhealthy foods because you’re in a hurry, preparing everything the night before is the solution.