Lose Weight: Eat Breakfast

What's for breakfast - coffee? Most mornings, we barely glance at the kitchen. Fixing breakfast takes up precious time that's in short supply. But there's ample evidence that the simple act of eating breakfast -- every day -- is a big part of losing weight, lots of weight.

"People skip breakfast thinking they're cutting calories, but by mid-morning and lunch, that person is starved," says Milton Stokes, RD, MPH, chief dietitian for St. Barnabas Hospital in New York City. "Breakfast skippers replace calories during the day with mindless nibbling, bingeing at lunch and dinner. They set themselves up for failure."

It makes sense: Eating early in the day keeps us from "starvation eating" later on. But it also jump-starts your metabolism, says Elisabetta Politi, RD, MPH, nutrition manager for the Duke Diet & Fitness Center at Duke University Medical School. "When you don't eat breakfast, you're actually fasting for 15 to 20 hours, so you're not producing the enzymes needed to metabolize fat to lose weight."

But there’s more to it than simply not skipping the meal. Many children eat sugary cereals and breads for breakfast, chased down with a can of soda or sugary fruit juice. These kinds of eating habits may cause even more harm than not eating breakfast at all. So, whats for breakfast?

When you plan breakfast meals for yourself and your family, vow to avoid any of these common, typically non-healthy breakfast items:

  • Doughnuts
  • Cereals
  • Fruit juice
  • Waffles and pancakes
  • Bagels and toast
  • MOST cereals (especially those that are mostly sugar)

Here are a few of my favorite HEALTHY breakfast choices:

  • Eggs with peppers: Many people love eggs. Egg whites are healthier than whole eggs. Scramble with a little olive oil, red and green bell peppers, maybe broccoli, onions, black pepper. Goes well with whole-wheat toast.
  • Cottage cheese and fruit: Get low-fat cottage cheese. Add any kind of fruit. Apples, citrus, berries.
  • Protein shake with extras: I use whey protein powder. Blend up with low-fat milk and water, some frozen fruit, and perhaps some almond butter or oatmeal. That may sound weird, but it’s actually pretty good, and pretty filling. A little ground flax seed works well too.
  • Kashi Golean Crunch: Many whole-grain, high-fiber cereals are a good choice, but I mention this particular one because it’s a favorite of mine. It has a high amount of protein and fiber, low sugar. Add low-fat milk, and perhaps some berries if you like.
  • Oatmeal, flaxseed, blueberries & almonds: Steel-cut oatmeal is probably the healthier choice, but if you are in a hurry, the instant kind will do fine (it doesn’t have as much fiber, but the other ingredients make up for that). After microwaving the oatmeal, add ground flaxseed, frozen blueberries, sliced almonds. You can add a little cinnamon and honey (not a lot) if you’re using the non-instant oatmeal. That’s four power foods, full of fiber and nutrients, protein and good fats, with only a couple of minutes of prep time. And very tasty!

Breakfast may or may not be the "most important" meal of the day, but it certainly is important. Try one of these healthy breakfast options, and avoid the sugar-laden treats. If you have any breakfast "favorites", I'd love to hear them.

Have a healthy week!

Dr. Sean

Tagged: meals, weight loss, chiropractic, morning, wellness, breakfast, health, nutrition, obesity, weight, food, diets, juice, cereal


Karrey Britt 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the tips! I admit that I am one of those people who drink coffee — a skinny latte — for breakfast! I try to eat healthy snacks during the day to avoid overeating at night. My favorites are fresh or dried fruit, yogurt and nuts.

seancailteux 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for sharing, Karrey. Do you have coffee for breakfast because you can't find the time for anything else? If so, I would really recommend waking up a little earlier if that's a possibility, or preparing something healthy the night before.

I like that you mentioned eating healthy snacks during the day. I do the same thing, usually some baby carrots, a handful of almonds, a whey protein shake, or a self-made trail mix blend of Kashi cereal and dried fruit. It certainly helps to keep me strong and satisfied throughout the day.

Karrey Britt 7 years, 7 months ago

I make my own trail mix blend as well — didn't think about adding Kashi cereal, so thanks for the tip. And yes, time is the issue. As with many occupations, my schedule fluctuates depending on events that need covered or if I need to interview someone after they get off work. More often than not, I tend to exercise and get everything else that needs to be done in the evening. That means I tend to eat late, too (I know — it's not healthy). So, I opt to sleep as long as possible in the morning, and if I am hungry — grab a banana or something. This reminds me of a question that a reader asked me to do a story on... She only eats once a day and wanted to know if that is damaging her health in any way. Thoughts? Maybe a topic for your next blog.

seancailteux 7 years, 7 months ago

In my opinion, eating once a day is NOT a good idea. And here is why I feel this way: First of all, someone who eats only once a day is faced with the chore of consuming the entirety of the day's calories in one sitting. What a huge task that is! Secondly, even if it were possible (and comfortable) to eat 1500-2500 calories in one sitting, your body is not going to use all of those calories right away. When we consume calories that our body does not immediately begin to use, we store these as fat. Also, when we go too long between meals, our metabolism slows down because our body isn't sure when its next meal is going to be. Intelligently, our body will stop burning as many calories and hold on to the fuel it does have in case it can't get anything to eat. But when we eat several small meals throughout the day, our body will continue to burn calories at a steady, maximum level. And eating many small meals allows us to avoid the huge insulin spike that comes with eating too many calories at one time. There are a whole host of suspected health problems that relate to spikes in insulin levels. Bottom line, there are many "diets" out there. But my recommendation, and that of the majority of health professionals, is to eat many small meals each day rather than a few (and especially only one) big meals.

Karrey Britt 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for posting this information. I think it's beneficial for the community.

jestevens 7 years, 7 months ago

Since I'm on a gluten-free diet, breakfast is one of two types of gluten-free cereal, soy milk, bananas and either blueberries, strawberries or raisins. Plus a cup of tea with soy milk. Boring, but I'm completely satisfied.

Occasionally -- once every couple of months -- I'll scramble a couple of eggs or go out for breakfast for eggs, bacon and potatoes.

seancailteux 7 years, 7 months ago

That doesn't sound boring to me, Jane. It actually sounds pretty delicious and well balanced. Thank you for also addressing the "gluten-free" diet, as it obviously affects on what one can and cannot eat.

And I, too, will have the occasional "relaxed" breakfast". My favorite is waffles with butter and syrup! But everything in moderation, right?. =)

Jd Finch 7 years, 7 months ago

If you exercise before eating and plan on continuing to move after eating, my recommendation is iskiate (recipe here: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/tarahumara-pinole-chia-recipes/), a little oatmeal, and low-fat yoghurt. If you're eating instant oatmeal, you can eat it straight out of the packet with cold water. It tastes better than you might think. The benefit? If you don't have a lot of room to carry stuff, all you need is water and a spoon.

Also, a bowl of rice with an egg mixed in (I like scrambled) and a little salsa is delicious. Go easy on the egg if you have more running to do, though. It can come back to haunt you.

Jennifer Dropkin 7 years, 7 months ago

These days I always eat breakfast. I soak a cup or two of whole grains for 24 hours, usually with some yogurt live-culture whey, boil the grains in the morning, and store them in the refrigerator for the upcoming week. One serving is about 3/4 cup of cooked grains, some freshly ground flaxseed, plain yogurt or coconut oil, salt and cayenne pepper. It's tasty! If I want it warm, I use the microwave.

If I don't cook whole grains, I have eggs instead, or I have fish on toast--canned salmon, or sardines, or kippers. Sometimes smoked salmon. And the toast is buttered.

This isn't a low-fat regimen, but I've been losing weight since I started doing this, and I feel a lot better.

seancailteux 7 years, 7 months ago

It may not be a low-fat regimen, but it sounds as though the majority of the fats you are consuming (salmon, flaxseed, etc) are healthy fats. It sounds delicious. I would recommend fresh, wild fish as opposed to the farmed variety due to potentially high mercury levels, and other toxicities.

Also, I have a question about the whole grains.: When you boil them in the morning, does this kill off the cultures that they soaked up from the yogurt live-culture whey?

Thanks for the input. I can't wait to try your recipe!

Jennifer Dropkin 7 years, 7 months ago

Hi, Shawn: boiling grains will kill off the live cultures, but my understanding is that the changes to the grains after soaking are still good: after 24 hours, the grains have just started sprouting (and you can get close to the same effect by using lemon juice instead of live-culture whey).

According to Sally Fallon in her book Nourishing Traditions, phytic acid in grains binds to minerals we need to absorb like calcium, magnesium, etc. Soaking grains changes the chemistry of the grains so the minerals are available for absorption when we eat them. Soaking also neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors in the grains. Without soaking, the enzyme inhibitors run interference with our food absorption, too.

I hope you like the cereal! You can play around with different grains and percentages--or you can try it with a sweetener, too.

Thanks for the tip on kinds of fish to eat!

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