Breakfast for Weight Loss

By Rachel MacPhersonApril 13th 2021

How Important is Eating Breakfast and What Should You Eat?

We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but is there any evidence to support this? Lately, some popular diets include fasting over the breakfast period, having you skip the early morning meal in favor of eating in a shorter window of time. 

Whether you choose to eat breakfast in the morning or not, knowing which types of food are best for weight loss and which to avoid can help you plan your first meal of the day.

Read on to learn more about whether eating breakfast is good for weight loss and what to eat for breakfast for the best results.

Does Eating Breakfast Help with Weight Loss?

There are two sides to the breakfast debate: some experts say that skipping breakfast leads to poor meal choices later in the day due to an increase in hunger and cravings. Other sources say that skipping breakfast allows the body to remain in a fasting state, helping burn off more calories.

Breakfast for Weight Loss

A 2019 meta-analysis—a review of the available research between January 1990 and January 2018—concluded that eating breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss. This finding doesn't mean that eating breakfast will cause you to gain weight, but it also doesn't mean that eating breakfast can help you lose weight. So, recommending eating breakfast as a weight loss strategy isn't a good idea. (Our readers also like: How to Lose Weight In 12 Weeks)

However, there was only a slight difference in weight, favoring those who skipped breakfast. If you enjoy eating breakfast or are one of those people who can't stand to go hungry until lunch, then there's nothing wrong with choosing to eat a morning meal. On the other hand, if eating early in the morning doesn't appeal to you, and you'd rather stick it out until later in the day, that is also a perfectly valid option even if you are trying to lose weight. 

The bottom line is that it is more about your total calorie intake and the quality of the food you eat at each meal than about what time you eat. In fact, eating when you are hungry instead of when it is a particular time of day is a better strategy for weight loss.

What to Eat for Breakfast for Weight Loss

Choose a Source of Protein

As nature's building blocks, protein has many benefits in your diet.

Protein takes more energy for your body to digest than fat or carbohydrates, meaning eating more protein helps you burn more calories. Additionally, protein helps build muscle mass when combined with the strength training routine. Muscle mass also burns more calories at rest than fat mass does. 

When you eat protein with your meals, they are digested more slowly, which helps you stay full longer. Scientific research shows that people who eat eggs at breakfast time rather than a bread-based breakfast low in protein lose more weight. 

Breakfast for Weight Loss

Choose high-quality lean proteins for breakfast such as:

  • Whole eggs
  • Egg whites
  • Lean ham or peameal bacon (not regular bacon)
  • Whey protein powder
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Nuts and seeds

Choose Minimally Processed Carbohydrates

Highly processed carbohydrates offer little nutritional value and are high in calories. What's worse is that they are low in fiber, meaning you will become hungry soon after eating them. Fiber is known to aid with weight loss and improve body composition. Research shows that eating a high fiber breakfast compared to a low fiber breakfast can help you lose 2% more weight over 12 weeks. Many other studies show the benefits of fiber for weight loss. (See also: How Losing Weight Affects Your Body and Brain )

Breakfast for Weight Loss

On the other hand, whole grains offer plenty of fiber and nutrients and can help you feel full and supply you with slow-burning energy for the day. Good sources of whole grains for breakfast include:

  • Oatmeal such as steel-cut oats
  • Whole wheat and multigrain toast 
  • Whole wheat English muffins
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Oat groats 
  • Oat bran
  • Spelt or buckwheat flour pancakes

Add Fruits and Vegetables

Whether you choose a whole grain-based or protein-based healthy breakfast, it is wise to add some servings of fruit and vegetables. Most people do not get enough fruit and vegetables in their day, and missing the opportunity to eat them at breakfast time puts you behind. You can add fruit easily to oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes, or other sweeter dishes, and vegetables go well with eggs, in smoothies, or tucked inside whole wheat tortillas with eggs and ham. 

And of course, you can always eat some fruit or vegetables on the side of your plate or blend it into a smoothie.

Breakfast for Weight Loss

Some vegetables that go well with breakfast foods include:

  • Baby spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Mushrooms

Any fruit does well with breakfast. Some popular ones that are ideally added to whole grains or protein meals include:

  • Berries
  • Bananas
  • Cherries
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapple
  • Apples
  • Oranges

Breakfast Foods to Avoid

By now, it's probably fairly obvious what types of breakfast foods are best avoided. Highly processed grains will spike your blood sugar, offer almost no nutritional value, and will not keep you feeling full and satisfied. 

Breakfast foods that are high in fat, especially unhealthy kinds like too much saturated fat that also have little protein, are best avoided as well. (Check out: Can My Chiropractor Help Me Lose A Few Pounds? )

Breakfast for Weight Loss

Keep in mind that if you love a certain brand of flavored sugary cereal or really enjoy a couple of slices of bacon on the weekend that this is still totally acceptable. Just keep indulgences to a minimum and make sure your portion sizes are under control.

Traditional breakfast foods that are not helpful for weight loss include:

  • Sugary cereals
  • Juice
  • Sugar-sweetened fruit drinks
  • Traditional bacon
  • Sugar-sweetened yogurts
  • White bread products
  • Instant oatmeal packets
  • Bagels

It is a personal decision whether or not to eat breakfast, and your internal hunger cues should guide it. If you are feeling hungry when you wake up, it is a good idea to eat. Ignoring your hunger signals can lead to overeating and grabbing less healthy foods out of desperation. The best strategy for weight loss when it comes to breakfast is to plan ahead. Plan a healthy protein source, a complex carbohydrate, and fruits and vegetables for your first meal of the day. Watch your portion sizes and make sure to get plenty of activity, and you'll be well on your way to reaching your goals.

Breakfast for Weight Loss

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for informational purposes only, and although Reshape.Me strives to keep the information up to date and correct, it does not replace the advice of a healthcare practitioner. Be sure to consult a licensed medical professional if you require personalized support that may affect your health. Any reliance on this information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

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