Why Dietitians Make Breakfast a Priority
A protein-rich breakfast gets your brain going.
It also boosts your metabolism, balances your blood sugar, and helps you eat less throughout the day. Many people think that skipping breakfast is an effective way to cut calories and lose weight. In reality, skipping breakfast has been associated with an increased prevalence of obesity. This effort to reduce calories usually backfires and creates hunger that leads to endless snacking after work or over-eating at the next meal.
This pattern of restriction followed by overeating leads us to consume over 50% of our total daily calorie needs at the end of the day. A study on weight loss showed that participants who ate the largest amount of calories for breakfast and the least amount for dinner were able to lose more weight, decrease triglyceride levels, and have higher levels of satiety in comparison to the participants (on the same calorie restriction) who ate a majority of their calories for dinner with few calories consumed for breakfast.
In order to adopt healthy habits and long-term weight management, make breakfast a part of your daily routine. If you’re still not sure how to do this, or you think you’re “just not a breakfast person,” start with something small within an hour of waking up. Maybe it’s just a banana, a boiled egg, or a piece of toast with peanut butter on it. Start to notice any changes in your energy and food cravings the rest of the day. Then work your way up to a healthy protein-rich breakfast, such as the following:
- 2 eggs scrambled with veggies and topped with avocado
- Oatmeal sprinkled with nuts and seeds, or with nut butter stirred in
- 2 muffin frittatas and a piece of fruit
- Greek yogurt sprinkled with granola, ground flax seeds, and topped with berries
- Smoothie containing protein powder, spinach, berries, and milk or milk alternative
- 2 boiled eggs and whole grain toast topped with almond butter and a sliced banana
Check out the UWMC Plaza Café for some protein-rich and high-fiber breakfast choices such as eggs and whole grain toast along with a piece of fruit. At home, you may need to start small and work your way up to a breakfast that supplies at least 20% of your daily calorie needs.
For the average American (based on a 2,000 calorie diet), breakfast should consist of 400-500 calories, which includes at least 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. You’ll find you have more energy, eat less at dinner, and have decreased cravings for unhealthy foods. If you’re diabetic, you may even notice that your blood sugar numbers are lower throughout the rest of the day. Plus, with daily breakfast you’ll have the added benefit of losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight.
- Ma Y, Bertone E, Stanek E, Reed G, Herbert J, Cohen N, Merriam P, Ockene I. (2003). Association between Eating Patterns and Obesity in a Free-living US Adult Population. American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 158, Issue 1, Pg. 85-92
- Jakubowics D, Barnea M, Wainstein J, Froy O. (2013) High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity, Do13 Dec;21(12):2504-12.
- Jakubowicz D, Wainstein J, Ahren B, Landau Z, Bar-Dayan Y, Froy O. (2015) Fasting Until Noon Triggers Increased Postprandial Hyperglycemia and Impaired Insulin Response After Lunch and Dinner in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Diabetes Care, 20015;38:1820-1826.
Vanessa Imus, MS, RD is a dietitian at the UWMC Weight Loss Management Center working with patients to help them lose weight through non-surgical approaches as well as helping patients be successful with bariatric surgery. She’s also an instructor for Nutrition courses at the University of Phoenix. In her spare time she enjoys running with her golden retriever and learning new hobbies such as dance, tennis, or any of the new fitness crazes.