There is some debate on the power of breakfast to boost metabolism and/or promote weight loss. There is more evidence in support of breakfast to help us burn calories throughout the day. Researchers have found that people who eat breakfast do tend to be thinner than those who don’t. When looking at the most successful weight loss stories and those individuals who maintain their weights, one common factor seems to be that they eat breakfast.
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCS) is a research study that includes people (18 years or older) who have lost at least 30 pounds and have kept it off for at least a year. Almost 80 percent in the NWCS report eating breakfast every day. It’s difficult to know if eating breakfast causes healthier lifestyle habits overall or if people who eat breakfast live healthier. Either way, eating breakfast is always a good move.
Breakfast with Benefits
If breakfast is not in your vocabulary, here are some proven benefits of breakfast that may make you reconsider making it a part of your day. Breakfast can:
- Improve concentration and alertness (especially for children and adolescents)
- Improve short-term memory
- Increase energy – it powers up your brain and body to move through the day.
- Decrease levels of LDL cholesterol, usually referred to as bad cholesterol
- Lower diabetes risk
- Maintain blood sugar control
- Avoid hunger pangs
- May prevent binge eating or overeating later in the day
- Lower heart disease risk
- Lower body weight and reduced obesity risk
- Provide vital nutrients
- Improve mood
- The body likes routine, and meal times matter based on growing evidence on weight management and blood glucose control. This first meal of the day is a perfect time to focus on whole grains and fiber.
Breakfast gives us the stamina to move with pep, be active during the day, and even have enough energy left to get in a workout. So even if there isn’t enough evidence for a direct link between breakfast and weight loss, there may be an indirect effect for this reason. Studies indicate that skipping breakfast was associated with markers for insulin resistance. One study found that men who skipped breakfast had a 21 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with men who ate breakfast. In addition, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who reported eating breakfast had an overall decreased energy density (energy = calories in this case) for the day, a lower BMI (body mass index), and a better diet quality.
Breakfast gives us energy and alertness for the day. Do not rely on eating breakfast alone for weight loss. Total energy or calorie intake for the day matters, as well as being active in daily life and incorporating physical activity most days of the week. Start the day off right with a balanced breakfast that is comprised of lean proteins, whole grains with fiber, and healthy fats.
Lela Iliopoulos is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator and an expert in nutrition therapy, health promotion, and education. She is passionate about impacting nutritional health through the practical application of science-based information