Breakfast is one meal that’s often overlooked but incredibly important when it comes to weight loss. According to the Dairy Council of California, eating the right breakfast has been shown to help you lose weight and keep the pounds off because it can ward off snacking, keep you full longer and help set a healthy eating pattern for the entire day.
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With all the benefits a healthy, balanced breakfast can bring when it comes to your diet, it’s vital you get it right. Check out the following seven ways to start making breakfast your first tool in the war on weight!
1. Count Those Calories
Go for a breakfast that’s between 300 and 400 calories, with the 300 to 350 range ideal for weight loss. If you’re working to maintain your weight, lean closer to the 350 to 450 calorie range. Many items have the calories printed on the label or packaging, and there are apps available that can give you estimated counts for items without labels, like fresh fruits and veggies.
2. Cut The Right Carbs
Around 45 to 55 percent of breakfast calories should come from carbs, which works out to around 40 to 55 grams. But avoid overly processed foods, sugary foods and items made with enriched white flour. Aim for fruits, veggies and whole grains.
3. Pack On Some Protein
Have 15 to 20 percent of your calories at breakfast come from protein, which is around 13 to 20 grams. Having enough protein at breakfast will help to keep you feeling full throughout your morning, cutting out mid-morning snacking and the calories that come with it.
Nuts and seeds, dairy products, eggs, soy milk, whole grains and protein powder in your smoothie are all good protein sources. With protein powder, a word of caution: some types are packed with extra sugars and additives you don’t need, so choose yours wisely.
4. Find The Right Fats
Around 30 to 35 percent of your breakfast calories should be fat, so you’re looking for 10 to 15 grams. Avoid saturated fats like cheese and bacon, and aim for monounsaturated fats, which include seeds, nuts and their butters, olive oils and avocado.
Nut butter in particular is widely available in different types right now, from traditional peanut to cashew, almond and even sunflower, so you can experiment with flavors to add variety to your daily morning meal.
5. Figure Out Fiber
According to Today’s Dietitian, women need 25 grams of fiber each day, and men should get 38 grams. Aim to hit at least that figure by getting 25 percent of your recommended intake in at breakfast, which is around six grams for women and 9.5 grams for men. Whole grains, pears, apple greens, nuts, seeds, berries and veggies can all help you reach your goal.
6. Don’t Stress About Sugar
Generally, if you’re following the carb recommendation above, you don’t have to worry about sugar, especially if you’re getting a combination of foods like dairy, fruit, and whole grains. Try not to go over 36 grams of sugar if possible, and stay at six grams or less of added sugar, which is around 1.5 teaspoons of any sweetener, including brown and white sugars, agave and maple syrup.
Sugar can be sneaky and found in items in much larger amounts than you’d expect, so check labels before buying food products so you don’t buy something that has an unnecessarily high sugar amount.
7. Work On Timing
The best time to eat breakfast is around 30 to 60 minutes after you wake up, per Women’s Health Magazine. If you’re not able to eat big as soon as you wake, split your breakfast into two parts, having something on the light side soon after waking and the rest about 90 minutes later.
This also works if you’re a person who likes to work out in the morning and doesn’t want a full stomach while doing so. If you’re exercising first thing, have the more carb-based part of your breakfast before working out and the protein-based afterward.
If you’re struggling to eat breakfast in the morning because of lack of time, consider getting up a bit earlier or preparing some or all of your breakfast, if possible, the night before. By cutting down on the prep time, you’ll give yourself the extra minutes you need to actually eat all of your breakfast.
On days you know you’ll be rushing around no matter what you do, try picking a breakfast that is easy to handle on the go, such as a smoothie-egg pairing.
Quick Breakfast Examples:
Hitting all the above benchmarks isn’t as hard as it seems. One example that tops off at 328 calories, with around nine grams of carbs, seven grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein is steel-cut oats with nuts and fruit.
Simply cook a half-cup of the oats in one-half cup water and one-half cup unsweetened soy milk. Cover with a half-cup of blueberries, a tablespoon of chopped walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Another example which is easy to split is a smoothie and hard-boiled egg. Make a carrot cake smoothie by blending half a frozen banana, two medium-size carrots, 240 ml of unsweetened almond or soy milk, half a scoop of a plant-based protein powder, one tablespoon of golden raisins and cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, and enjoy with one hard-boiled egg.
If you want to split your breakfast, have half of the smoothie first and the rest plus the egg later. This breakfast is around 368 calories, 12.6 grams of fat, 49.5 grams of carbs, 9.4 grams of fiber, and 25 grams each of sugar and protein.
Common Mistakes To Avoid:
- Skip breakfast: When you’re asleep, your body slows down while you’re not eating. When you wake up, if you don’t break this fast, your body will burn off calories at a slower rate for the rest of the day. To get your body burning calories and jolt your metabolism, you have to eat a proper meal when you first get up. Not eating also affects your mood and mind because your brain is deprived of glucose.
- Eat too little: Not enough breakfast will leave you feeling hungry quite soon after eating, and this can set a pattern of overeating for the whole day because you’ll want more food and/or grab unhealthy snacks. Using the tips above, you’ll feel satisfied for a longer period of time and have more energy for workouts.
- Have an imbalance meal: Leaving out a necessary component of the breakfast formula or going too extreme, such as avoiding carbs entirely or having all protein, will short you on nutrition and satisfaction for your first meal of the day. By having a balanced breakfast, you’ll feel better, be more likely to fight off cravings, and hopefully lose weight as a result!