Some people need to eat first thing to be able to start their day. While to others, the idea of having a meal when they’re still half asleep is a total non-starter. Whether you’re a breakfast lover or lean more towards brunch, the benefits of making your first meal a balanced one has some serious merit.
Unfortunately, the traditional breakfast of cold cereal and milk many of us were raised on doesn’t make the cut. While some cereals are better than others, many are low in protein and fiber and high in carbohydrates and sugar, a combo that can leave you feeling tired and hungry not long after your bowl is empty. To truly get the most out of this meal, it’s important to choose nutrient-dense whole foods and make balanced meals. These include protein, plenty of veggies and fruit, a serving of healthy fat (i.e. nuts, seeds or avocado), and a serving of complex carbohydrates (i.e. whole grains, starchy veggies, beans).
A veggie scramble with eggs or tofu, a cup of cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt with a serving of fruit and nuts, a smoothie made with a protein powder from our recommended list, or even dinner leftovers (i.e. a salad topped with chicken, salmon or tofu) are all good options. See a list of quick and easy breakfast ideas here.
These will all help keep you from reaching for high-carb or sugary snacks before lunchtime. Ideally your breakfast (and every meal) will keep you going for at least three hours before you need to eat again. If you’re feeling hungry sooner than this, try bumping up your protein.
Keep in mind that eating breakfast is only beneficial to weight loss if it means eating fewer calories throughout the day then had you skipped it.
If you typically skip breakfast and don’t end up making unhealthy choices later in the day, you may be fine without it. Pay attention to how you feel throughout the entire day. If you don’t eat your first meal until lunchtime and are prone to feeling “hangry,” crave carbs and sugar throughout the day, overeat at other meals or notice your weight loss has stalled, consider having a small breakfast (i.e. an apple with nut butter or hard boiled egg with a piece of fruit) and notice if and how it changes your mood, behavior and weight loss efforts.