Eat breakfast to lose weight

Research shows that eating a solid breakfast is one of the best things you can do if you're trying to lose weight. Of course, eating breakfast is also an essential step if you're merely interested in following a healthier lifestyle.

What's more, research also indicates that certain breakfast choices are better if you're trying to shape up.

For example, a 2008 study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed that eating two eggs for breakfast, as part of a reduced-kilojoule diet, helped overweight adults lose more weight and feel more energetic than those who ate a bagel breakfast of equal kilojoules, reports.

An earlier Experimental Biology study analysed the breakfast habits of 19 000 Americans older than 12 years - an investigation that formed part of a mega study called NHANES III. This was one of the largest diet surveys ever undertaken in the USA and the results showed the following:

  • Eating breakfast may play a more significant role in weight maintenance than total kilojoule intake.
  • Breakfast skippers tend to gain, rather than lose weight, because they're more inclined to overcompensate for the loss of kilojoules at breakfast by eating more fat-rich, high-energy foods later in the day, especially at supper. 
  • Eating breakfast not only increases the daily dietary fibre intake significantly, but also provides more protective nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. High-fibre diets have a lower fat and energy content than low-fibre diets, because foods rich in fibre are generally low in fat and the inclusion of dietary fibre dilutes the energy content of the diet.
  • Eating high-fibre breakfast cereals has a positive impact on keeping the body mass index low (BMI is a measure of body weight). According to the research, people who ate breakfast cereals had an average BMI of 25.5, while participants who ate eggs and bacon had an average BMI of 26.7 (BMIs above 25 are indicative of overweight and obesity).

Children and teenagers
Another study reported on the breakfast habits of children and teenagers. Once again, the results showed that children and teenagers who ate breakfast were thinner than their counterparts who skipped breakfast.

Why do we skip breakfast?
In the USA, about 25% of the population skip breakfast on a regular basis. In South Africa, the situation is probably fairly similar.

Reasons given for skipping breakfast vary and include: lack of time, poor meal planning and the mistaken belief that skipping meals will result in weight loss.

Make an effort
It may take a bit of planning, but it's really worthwhile. The following suggestions may help you to become a breakfast eater:

  • Plan what you're going to eat for breakfast and include these foods on your shopping list.
  • Set the alarm to go off 15 minutes earlier so that you have time to eat a simple, but healthy breakfast. 
  • If you really can’t face food just after rising, prepare food to take along to work or school that you can eat during the course of the morning.

Good choices
A balanced, low-fat, high-fibre breakfast should include the following:

  • A fresh fruit or fruit juice (tip: buy fruit that requires no preparing and is easy to take to work/school, e.g. naartjies, apples, bananas).
  • High-fibre breakfast cereal (tip: instant oats can be prepared anywhere as long as you have hot water available, or take bran-rich cereals/muesli to work/school in a plastic container).
  • Low-fat milk or yoghurt. These dairy products are rich in protein and calcium, but low in fat (tip: buy long-life low-fat milk and store in a fridge at work and buy low-fat yoghurt in small plastic containers).
  • Low-GI or wholewheat bread, or high-fibre muffins, with Lite margarine, jam or marmite; 
  • Boiled or scrambled eggs. Include these for extra protein and iron (tip: hard-boiled eggs are easy to take along to work/school; you can can eat three to four eggs a week).

- (Dr IV van Heerden, DietDoc, updated November 2008)

Any questions? Ask DietDoc

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