By Marisa Creatura, MS, RD, CDN
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” … or is it? One of the most common topics I am asked about is breakfast. Some people are simply not hungry in the morning, and others are too busy to sit down for a meal. Research has well established that breaking your 7-9 hour overnight fast increases problem solving, concentration, and memorization. As for weight maintenance, people who skip breakfast tend to overcompensate at lunch, having larger, and more calorie-dense lunches; however some research shows the overcompensation stops there, and people do not eat more at dinner. Therefore, if you’re not a breakfast eater, and are adamant that you will not start eating breakfast, make sure to have a substantial lunch, with a balance of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If you are skipping on the size and quality of lunch, or skipping lunch all together, you may overeat significantly at dinner, or be snacking from the time you get home until the time you go to sleep. This build-up of hunger through the day can make you more likely to reach for unhealthy choices when it is finally time to eat.
If you are a breakfast eater, studies on the National Weight Control Registry suggest you have a better chance at maintaining weight loss! The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is a group of individuals who have lost at least 30lbs and maintained that weight loss for at least one year. This group of individuals is studied to look for trends in their behaviors that help them maintain their weight loss. A study on these individuals found the majority (78%) of people were breakfast eaters.
And if you’re looking to lose weight or generally increase your intake of nutrient-rich foods to prevent disease, breakfast can help out! A study published this year found that those who eat most of their calories in the morning (breakfast making up 50%, lunch 30%, and dinner 20% of total calories consumed throughout the day) have more weight loss and better sleeping patterns than people who eat their largest meal in the evening. Further, consuming a higher protein breakfast is associated with decreased expression of hunger hormones, so you feel more satisfied throughout the day!
So give breakfast a try! There are plenty of quick options to be made at home, and you can start small if you are just getting used to breakfast. There are plenty of on-the-go options that can be made the night before so can start your day feeling satisfied, get the nutrients you need, feel alert, and maintain your weight!
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Raynor HA, Li F, Cardoso (2018) Daily pattern of energy distribution and weight loss. Physiology and Behavior pii: S0031-9384(18)30097-0
Vander Wal, Gupta, Khosla, Dhurandhar. (2008) Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. International Journal of Obesity 32(10):1545-51