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Eat Breakfast to Lose Weight
By Kathy B. Glazer   View more articles by this author
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November 16

Just like a race car needs gas, oil and water, our body needs fuel or, food, water and other nutrients, to function at its optimum. I ask you, would you start your car in a race without fuel?  So why would you start your day without breakfast?

Many people trying to lose weight typically skip breakfast thinking that they are saving calories. It turns out that when you skip a meal you usually make up the missing calories by later nibbling snacks or binging at the next meal. It also matters what you eat for breakfast (but more on that later). “People who skip breakfast are unlikely to make up their daily requirement for some vitamins and mineral that a simple breakfast could provide.”(1)  “When you skip breakfast you are fasting 15-20 hours, so you’re not producing the enzymes needed to metabolize fat to lose weight.”(2)  

Breakfast is important to weight loss. A look at the National Weight Control Registry reveals that successful dieters routinely eat breakfast.” 78% reported eating breakfast every day, and almost 90% reported eating breakfast at least five days a week.”(3)  The National Weight Control registry is a voluntary organization composed of adults that have lost a minimum of 30 pounds or more and kept it off a year or more.  Many in this group have lost 60 pounds or more and kept it off for many years. Part of their success in losing weight and keeping it off long term is due to eating breakfast.

Eating breakfast also helps in other areas.  To feel your best, boost your brain power, perform well at work or school, start with fuel in your stomach. Research shows that children who eat breakfast have better concentration at school and on exams.(4)  Avoid a midmorning slump by eating breakfast.

Now that we know you should eat breakfast what is the best breakfast to eat? It does not have to be traditional breakfast items if you are not used to eating cereal or eggs.   

Pick two to three foods in each category for a combination, such as:
A. bread or grain, B. milk or dairy products, C. fruit, and or vegetable group

Here are some breakfast suggestions:

  • ½ cup to 1 cup oatmeal, ½ cup fruit on top of cereal, and 8 oz. low fat milk
  • 1 small whole grain bagel (or ½ of a large) with 1 oz. low fat cheese
  • 1 small wheat tortilla with ¼ cup hummus and shredded carrots on top—roll this up
  • Roll up a wheat tortilla with 1-2 Tbsp of peanut butter and ½ banana, and 4 oz of Orange Juice to drink
  • Small piece of cheese pizza left over from the night before
  • Carnation Instant Breakfast drink made with 8 oz. fat free milk
  • Fruit smoothie ½ cup milk, ½ cup low fat yogurt, ½ cup fruit, 2 Tbsp flax seed

Here are some tips to help you incorporate breakfast in your day.

  • Plan ahead, purchase items at the grocery to have in the pantry or refrigerator or freezer.
  • Get portable items to take with you such as fruit, low fat yogurt, low fat breakfast bars or granola bars. Make a small breakfast sandwich the night before to grab and go.
  • Make up a batch of hard cooked eggs once a week so all you have to do is to take it out for refrigerator, then heat and eat.  You can even pre-peel the hard cooked eggs for faster preparation.
  • Replace your morning donut or pastry with whole grain toast or cereal in a sandwich bag to go. By planning ahead you will get less calories, more fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier to eat at home. You will save money and calories and feel better all morning.
  • Set the breakfast table the night before to save time. Put out the plate or bowl, utensils, glasses and cereal box.

Lastly, out of curiosity I quizzed a few of my colleagues to see what other Registered Dietitians (R.D.) ate for breakfast:

R.D. 1 offered two options:

  • 1 Whole grain English muffin with 1 oz low fat cheese and 1-2 eggs,
  • 1 serving of oatmeal with 2 egg whites and OJ.


R.D. 2 ate 1 cup high fiber cereal (Kashi Go Lean), ½ cup berries, 2 tbsp flax seeds, 8oz. fat free milk, 4 oz. OJ and 1 mozzarella cheese stick or 2 egg whites hard cooked.

R.D. 3 offered two options:

  • 1 serving of oatmeal, 8 oz. soy milk or 6oz. low fat Greek yogurt and ½ Banana
  • A Luna bar (protein bar), orange juice and half a banana


R.D. 4 offered three options:

  • Oatmeal with 2 tbsp flax seeds, ½ cup berries on cereal, 6 oz. low fat Greek yogurt,
  • Ak mok whole grain crackers, ¼ cup hummus and 4 oz orange juice,
  • ½ whole grain bagel with cooked salmon, and orange juice

In summary, if you are trying to lose weight and distribute calories throughout the day, you should eat a healthy breakfast. You will have more energy and your body will be fueled better in the day by eating breakfast.  So enjoy, Bon Appetite!

(1) John Hopkins University Public Health website “Why you should eat a healthy breakfast”

(2) Elisabetta Politi, R.D. MPH, nutrition manager  Duke Diet & Fitness Center at Duke University Medical School., Web MD  article Lose Weight: Eat Breakfast.

(3) James O. Hill National Weight Control  Registry & Director, Center for Human Nutrition , University of Colorado    Health Science Center.

(4) Good Nutrition: The First Step in Getting Kids  Ready to Learn   Dairy  Council of California 1997

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