If you’ve sought professional weight loss advice you’ve likely heard that breakfast skipping is a big no-no, so is it? When it comes to losing weight it’s useful to establish habits that are helpful to you–eating breakfast may be one of them.
Breakfast is no magic weight loss pill, but eating breakfast daily (even if it’s just a small bowl of oatmeal) may help you feel more energized and committed to making healthy choices throughout the day simply because you got a healthy head start! The actual science is shaky on whether skipping breakfast will put a dent in your weight loss, but there are some valid reasons why it might not be a good idea:
- Hungry at the wrong time and place Hunger is a huge weight loss hurdle, and skipping breakfast may make it hard to resist those free donuts in the break room or tempting vending machine snacks.
- Making not-so-healthy choices Hunger can cloud your judgment making you more likely to chow down on whatever is within arms reach. Unfortunately sugary, high calorie snacks make up a big part of our eating environment which can really add up if you’re not careful.
- Overcompensating at other meals You think you’re saving yourself some calories until lunch rolls ‘round and suddenly you feel like you can eat for two.
- Missing out on healthier choices If you’re not eating breakfast you’re missing out on an opportunity to sneak some important nutrients into your diet, like fiber and B vitamins from whole grains, calcium and protein from dairy and non-dairy milks, vitamin C and potassium from fruits–all of which are are commonly eaten in the morning.
Not all of us are born breakfast eaters but here are some key takeaways for those of us who want to start making breakfast a morning ritual:
1. Make breakfast the night before. Convenience is key especially if you like to hit the snooze button. Look for recipes that can be made the night before like delicious slow-cooker apple oatmeal, overnight chia seed pudding, oatmeal chocolate chip breakfast cookies, and so forth.
2. Rethink variety in your strategy. A healthy diet is a varied diet, but it’s okay to eat the same healthy foods for breakfast everyday if it’s more convenient for you. Just strive to get variety into lunch and dinner.
3. Don’t treat breakfast as the king of meals. The typical continental breakfast (think pancake, eggs, sausage, muffins, fruits) is elaborate and can cut into your time and calories. Save the more elaborate breakfasts for weekends or special occasions, and treat your everyday breakfast more like a nutritious morning snack.
4. Grocery shop for grab and go. Some days you just don’t have the energy to make breakfast the night before or the day of. Plan to pick up 2-3 options for whole grains, lean protein and fruit from the grocery store. Then, leave them in plain sight so that you can easily grab them as you’re flying out the door.
- GRAINS: whole grain tortilla, bagel, pita, crackers, instant oatmeal (just watch out for those with lots of added sugar), whole grain bread
- PROTEIN: a small carton of reduced-fat milk (dairy and non-dairy), hard boiled egg, reduced-fat string cheese, cottage cheese, Greek or regular yogurt, individual packets of nut butters for spreading on whole grain toast, nuts, hummus, sliced turkey and ham
- FRUIT: banana, apple, orange, raisins, grapes, berries
5. Don’t beat yourself up about breakfast. It’s great that you want to make breakfast a healthy habit, but all habits take time to form, so don’t stress! If you did skip, tracking your calories throughout the day can help you eat your other meals without overcompensating for the calories that you didn’t eat at breakfast.
Have other suggestions for fitting breakfast into your busy day? Share in the comments below.