If you’re trying to lose weight and think skipping breakfast is a good start, think again. Breakfast is often considered the most important meal for good reason, and when you skip it, either to reduce calories or because you’re in a rush, you may actually end up gaining more weight.
Why You Should Break the Fast
Breakfast literally means to break the fast—the period, usually overnight, since your last meal. For many of us, that may be 8 to 10 hours. During that time, although you may think you’re resting, your body is actually hard at work. This is when the body repairs and grows tissue, hormones are released for growth and development, and energy is restored.
When you wake up, your body needs fuel after its active night. When you don’t eat, you may find it hard to get moving with your day. You may feel sluggish or cranky. As the morning goes on—you may have not eaten for 12 – 14 hours. As you get hungrier during the day, you are more likely to overindulge—either in amount or food selection—once you do eat. You may also be more likely to have food cravings and increased snacking during the day. As a result, you may end up eating more calories to be satisfied than you would have by starting with a healthy breakfast.
The Obesity Epidemic
Weight gain and obesity are serious problems for people in the United States. One in three people are considered obese, or 20% or more above their ideal weight. This is a concern since obesity can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. Since skipping breakfast can contribute to overeating—as well as make you hungry and cranky, instead of bypassing breakfast, it makes more sense to plan for a healthy meal to start to your day.
For more proof that eating a healthy breakfast is better for losing weight than skipping breakfast, consider this: The National Weight Loss Registry is a research study that gets information from adults who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year. Of the people in the study, 78% eat breakfast every day, indicating that providing fuel first thing in the morning helps control weight throughout the day, and beyond.
What are Healthy Choices for Breakfast?
One of the best combinations is protein and complex carbohydrates. Studies show that a high protein breakfast is particularly helpful at reducing hunger and food intake during the day.
One rule of thumb is to have at least one-third of your protein at breakfast, perhaps in a protein shake with fruit and protein powder. Greek yogurt and fruit, or eggs and turkey bacon provide other good choices.
But breakfast doesn’t have to mean only eating breakfast foods! A peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread might be more appealing. Or, grab an apple and a stick of low-fat string cheese as you head out the door, and eat a bowl of oatmeal a few hours later. Survey last night’s leftovers for a quick healthy meal. A slice of Margherita pizza and with a side of fresh fruit might be the perfect combination.
Tomorrow, when you wake up and are tempted to forego your first meal of the day, give your hardworking body a little love with a healthy breaking of your fast. Your body, and especially your heart, will thank you.
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