Eating Breakfast Boosts Weight Loss

If you’re skipping breakfast in an effort to slim down, it might be wise to rethink your weight-loss strategy. Studies show that folks who eat breakfast tend to be thinner and healthier than those who don’t.

In a study of nearly 3,000 individuals enrolled in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), 78 percent reported eating breakfast every day of the week. All NWCR subjects had maintained a weight loss of 30 pounds for at least one year. On average, the subjects had lost more than 70 pounds and kept it off for six years.

Skipping any meal — especially breakfast — seems to promote weight gain rather than weight loss, since breakfast-skippers are more likely to give in to mid-morning munchies or extra-large lunches. Either way, they typically end up consuming far more calories than if they had just eaten breakfast in the first place.

The results of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when dieters regularly ate breakfast, they lost significantly more weight than those who routinely missed the morning meal.

The study included 52 obese women who were placed on a calorie-restricted diet and randomly assigned to one of two groups. The women in both groups consumed an equal number of calories each day, but one group ate breakfast while the other did not.shutterstock_16003477

Women assigned to the breakfast-eating group lost an average of 19.6 pounds in three months. Those assigned to the breakfast-skipping group lost an average of 13.6 pounds.

The subjects who ate breakfast reported feeling less hungry later in the day. As a result, they ate fewer calories at lunch and dinner, and they were less likely to engage in mindless snacking throughout the day.

Eating protein-rich foods, such as eggs or nuts, at breakfast is an excellent way to help stabilize blood-sugar levels and stave off hunger for hours. Dietary protein also helps build muscle tissue, which burns far more calories than fat tissue, even when the body is at rest.

It’s tempting to think that the more protein you eat at breakfast, the faster you’ll build calorie-melting muscle tissue, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Researchers at the University of Texas recently reported that only the first 30 grams of protein, the equivalent of approximately four ounces of dairy, fish or lean meat, at any meal contributes to an increased rate of muscle protein synthesis.

The scientists found that when adults ate 4 ounces of lean meat at a meal, their muscle protein synthesis increased by 50 percent. In subjects who ate 12 ounces of lean meat, muscle protein synthesis did not increase further.

The researchers concluded that when adults consume around 30 grams of protein per meal, muscle protein synthesis is maximized. When more protein is consumed, the extra calories may be stored in the body as fat.

Breakfast is a great time to consume moderate amounts of high-quality fat, such as fat found in fish, olive oil and nuts. The results of a study published in the March 2010 issue of the International Journal of Obesity suggest that when it comes to weight loss, it’s better to eat meals that are higher in fat and calories in the morning than in the evening.

Researchers at the University of Alabama reported that mice fed foods higher in fat and calories at the morning meal gained less weight than animals eating high-fat, high-calorie meals at the end of the day.

The morning meal provides an excellent opportunity to get a head start on your fiber intake. Not only do high-fiber foods help satisfy hunger, they can also make it easier to lose weight.

Fiber-rich foods, such as bran cereal, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, tend to be bulky, filling and satisfying. Ounce for ounce, they’re typically far lower in calories than highly processed low-fiber foods, such as corn flakes and toaster pastries.

Foods rich in fiber trigger the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin, or CCK. In the body, CCK serves as a chemical messenger that notifies the brain that the stomach is getting full and it’s time to stop eating.

For some folks, getting out of bed each morning is a challenge in itself, without worrying about what to eat. But when it comes to boosting weight loss and overall health, investing a few minutes assembling and eating a nutritious breakfast is an excellent investment of your time.

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