While eating breakfast every morning isn’t necessarily essential to lose weight, it has been proven to help—especially when you opt for the right meal.
“Studies show that protein-rich breakfasts stimulate satiety hormones more than breakfasts with the same calories but are higher in either fat or carbohydrates. Specifically, these protein-rich meals are more effective at keeping ghrelin (the hunger hormone) lower compared to carb- or fat-rich meals,” says Julie Upton, MS, RD, a registered dietitian on our Medical Expert Board.
Upton references a study that found when men ate a protein-rich meal of eggs and toast at breakfast, they ate 331 fewer calories compared to when the men ate equal calorie breakfasts of cereal and milk and toast (high-carb) or croissants (high-fat).
“While it’s unclear how much protein should be included in your a.m. meal for the best results, the general consensus is that it should be around 20-30 grams of protein and the carbs in the meal should be wholesome whole grain choices with not a lot of added sugars. Fat can be high, as long as it’s from primarily unsaturated sources,” says Upton.
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But protein isn’t the only macronutrient that can support weight loss in the morning. There are many other nutrients (even vitamins and minerals) that can work together and supercharge fat burning. For weight-loss-promoting breakfast options, read on for registered dietitians’ recommendations, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.
and for more on how to eat healthy, make sure you avoid these 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.
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One effective breakfast combination for weight loss is eggs and plant-based breakfast sausage. These are great in a breakfast burrito, recommends Upton, who uses a recipe of 2 whole eggs and 1 white (or 4 egg whites) scrambled with 1 chopped plant-based breakfast sausage. “While scrambling eggs, add chopped spinach, chopped bell pepper, and salsa. Serve in 1 small (6-inch) corn or whole grain tortilla with at least 5 grams of protein,” she says.
It works for weight loss because “this breakfast packs in ~25 grams of protein from the eggs and plant-based sausage with fiber-rich and filling veggies. Research shows that breakfast with about 20-30 grams of high-quality protein helps individuals eat fewer calories all day long. Egg protein can keep help keep blood sugar levels stable to control appetite and cravings,” explains Upton.
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What happens when you combine two of the healthiest breakfast foods? You get a meal that will supercharge your weight loss efforts. “This breakfast combines the beta-glucan fiber in oats that is known to help slow down digestion and reduce hunger hormones to keep you satisfied. Combining the beta-glucan with the high-quality protein of a protein-rich Greek yogurt with no added sugar is a win-win combo for weight loss,” says Upton. To make it, “combine 1 cup oatmeal with ½ cup nonfat or low-fat plain Greek yogurt (i.e., Chobani plain nonfat or low-fat yogurt) with 1 cup fresh or frozen (no added sugar) berries,” she recommends.
When building breakfasts for weight loss, two macronutrients you want to combine are protein and fiber. Plus, essential minerals can help. “Dairy foods like yogurt contain calcium: a nutrient that has been shown to support weight management. Plus, the high-quality protein found in yogurt helps promote satiety. The berries are a natural source of fiber — another factor that can help promote satiety — along with some sweetness with no added sugar,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian on our Medical Expert Board and author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook.
As long as your breakfast isn’t full of fats from processed meats or butter, fat can be a part of a healthy meal. One way to incorporate healthy fats is with everyone’s favorite fatty fruit, avocado! “Whole grains are packed with fiber, which can help us feel fuller longer. And topping it with avocado gives this dish a boost of healthy fats, which can help support weight loss goals too,” says Manaker.
For a savory protein and fiber combo, try a quick and easy omelet: “An egg breakfast has been linked to weight loss in certain situations, in part thanks to the high-quality protein that it contains. And pairing the egg with black beans gives this dish even more protein along with some fiber to make this dish extra filling,” says Manaker.
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