Breakfast has always been a hot topic when it comes to weight loss – some people choose to skip it, others swear by it. Here’s why skipping breakfast might not be the best choice for keeping hunger and weight gain at bay.
Research has shown time and again that consuming breakfast regularly is associated with lower levels of excess body fat and obesity. This is because eating a small breakfast, or skipping it entirely, has been associated with an increase in calorie consumption and overeating later on in the day, which can hinder weight loss goals. But it’s not just about eating breakfast, it’s also about what you’re eating for breakfast.
How much protein does your breakfast have?
As the first meal of the day, the quality of breakfast should be high – that means we should be looking to consume a balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. When choosing our breakfast we should be leaning towards foods that are rich in protein, as meals high in protein have been shown to be more satiating than those high in carbohydrates or fats.
Often overlooked, protein has a very important role in growth, development and the optimal running of essential bodily functions as well as helping us to feel full. Daily protein intake guidelines range from 0.75-2.2g per kg of bodyweight depending on a number of factors including age and activity levels, and consuming a diet that is higher in protein has been shown to be an effective choice when it comes to weight loss.
What to avoid for breakfast
At some point it was decided that breakfast foods should primarily consist of cereal, so walking down the breakfast aisle in a supermarket means being surrounded by friendly cartoon characters selling the likes of Fruit Loops and Coco Pops.
Unfortunately these cereals tend to be high in refined sugars which have been linked to weight gain, and as a result, tend to be lower in fibre and protein, both of which help with creating feelings of fullness.
With so much information out there it can be hard to know where to look, so we’ve made it easy for you by putting together a list of ten of the best healthy breakfast foods for helping you to lose weight:
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The average egg contains 72 calories, 6.3 grams of protein and just 5 grams of healthy fats. Relatively low in calories, but a good source of protein and healthy fats, eggs for breakfast is a great option when it comes to watching waistlines. Scrambled or poached on wholewheat toast, in the form of an omelette or a breakfast frittata if you’ve got a little extra time, these nutrient-dense powerhouses are easy to make and great for filling you up, making you less likely to snack later on.
High in slow-release carbohydrates to help keep you feeling full for longer, oats are a cheap and convenient breakfast option. When paired with a protein source such as protein powder, or a serving of yoghurt, they make an even better choice by increasing satiety.
Oats also contain a type of fibre called beta-glucan, which research has shown helps keep blood sugar levels, and therefore appetite, under control. Eaten hot or cold and easily transportable, oats serve as an accessible breakfast for achieving weight loss goals. Just add some fresh fruit and a handful of nuts or seeds to create a tasty breakfast bowl.
Yoghurt and dairy options
There are a good few dairy options out there that serve as a delicious and healthy breakfast choice, whilst promising to keep you feeling satisfied. Skyr and Quark, whilst technically considered to be cheese, have the consistency of Greek yoghurt, are low in fat and sugars, and rich in protein. Greek yoghurt products that are low in fat and high in protein are also a great choice, although be sure to pick one that isn’t full of added sugars to avoid unnecessary calories. Top with fresh berries or banana slices for extra flavour and nutrients.
These unassuming little seeds are not to be underestimated. As well as having a 20% protein content, they’re high in fibre and healthy fats to increase feelings of fullness. When mixed with liquid they absorb it to form a gel-like consistency and, when consumed, they expand in the stomach which helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Try mixing these into oats, smoothies, or with a yoghurt or milk option to create a chia pudding.
Similar to chia seeds, flaxseeds are high in fibre which helps to slow down digestion, therefore reducing hunger and the need for grazing. They also happen to be an excellent source of omega-3 fatty-acids, which protects against cardiovascular disease. Just add a spoonful to your porridge, yoghurt or smoothie mix for a fibre boost to help with weight loss.
A source of fibre, healthy fats and some protein, nuts or nut butters can be a great addition to a yoghurt or porridge bowl, or to a smoothie. Not only are they good for protecting your heart, several studies have shown an association between a higher nut consumption and a lower body weight. They are however quite calorie-dense so it’s worth keeping an eye on serving sizes. Having approximately just one handful of nuts a day can contribute towards prevention of weight gain, so these are a great breakfast addition when looking to lose weight.
Known for its convenience, a morning smoothie is an easy way of getting nutrients in and can be sipped on slowly for a longer digestion process. By including protein and some healthy fat sources such as nuts, chia seeds or yoghurt, these can be made into a filling meal that will ward off mindless snacking and aid the weight loss process. Try a blend of frozen fruit, your favourite greens, protein powder and chia seeds with some water or preferred milk option for a tasty and quick high-protein breakfast – but be mindful of quantities pre-blend as it can easily turn into a high-calorie option.
Not all cereals are bad! Great for busy mornings, Weetabix is a wholegrain high-fibre breakfast option that will help to keep energy levels stable and is fortified with vitamins and iron. At only 136cal and with less than 2g of sugar per 2-biscuit serving, Weetabix could be your new best weight loss friend. Try adding some extra protein in the form of yoghurt or by blending a protein powder with a milk option to pour over your Weetabix before topping with your favourite berries.
We’ve mentioned this one a few times already, but it really deserves a section to itself. Whey protein is a great protein source for dairy consumers, with plenty of vegan options available to choose from for dairy-free individuals. With between 20-30g of protein per typical scoop, minimal fat and carbohydrate content, powders can be an easy and low-calorie way of boosting the content of any breakfast by mixing it into the likes of yoghurt, porridge and smoothies.
Not necessarily an everyday breakfast choice as it’s not the most cost-effective option, but every now and then it makes for a nice Nordic twist on your usual meal. An excellent source of high-quality protein and healthy fatty acids, just add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and pop it on some wholewheat toast along with some light cream cheese for a protein-rich savoury breakfast that won’t leave you hungry.
Are you a mindful eater?
Whilst these high-protein and high-fibre foods are useful in the weight loss process, it’s not just about what you eat – it’s also about how you eat. Are you taking your time to chew and swallow your food? Or are you inhaling it as you’re halfway out of the door on your way to work? Making time to properly enjoy breakfast and adopting a more mindful approach when it comes to eating is also beneficial when it comes to weight loss.
Studies have shown that when food is eaten on the sofa in front of the tv, or whilst scrolling through social media, we consume more food than if we remove distractions. This allows our digestive systems to do their job properly, and in turn helps us to feel full and be less likely to snack throughout the day – ideal for weight loss.
All of the foods listed here play an important role in satiety, which can prevent overeating. However, it’s important to remember that it’s impossible to lose weight without being in a calorie deficit, so paying attention to portion sizes and daily intakes will also play a crucial role when it comes to weight loss. Pairing healthy portion sizes and consumption of foods rich in protein and fibre with an active lifestyle is the key to losing weight.