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Why Weight Loss Starts with Breakfast

Healthy breakfast of egg on toast with tomatoes

What makes breakfast so important for energy, weight loss, and overall health, what to do if you're not hungry first thing in the morning, and what to eat to make breakfast really count.

You’ve heard it before – breakfast is the most important meal of the day - but is that really true?

As intermittent fasting grows in popularity, many people have grabbed onto the idea that skipping meals, especially in the morning, is conducive to weight loss and positive hormonal changes. However, skipping breakfast can actually have some major consequences.

Why skipping breakfast is a bad idea for weight loss.

Skipping breakfast can lead to negative hormone changes and inflammation.

Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) increases before a meal, sparking you to eat. Once you’ve eaten, ghrelin decreases, and you feel satisfied. Sounds simple; however, when you skip a meal, especially at the beginning of the day, ghrelin stays elevated for a prolonged period of time - often the rest of the day.

This means you'll have an increased appetite throughout the day and a tendency to overeat later.

In fact, studies find that when you skip breakfast, you’re much more likely to eat high sugar and high fat foods in the evening (1). One study even found that skipping breakfast significantly increased inflammatory markers in the blood, which the researchers believed could lead to long-term negative health consequences (2).

What you eat in the morning matters.

Picture this: You wake up, ready to conquer the day, and reach for a quick healthy breakfast of cereal or oatmeal with fruit. Fast forward 90 minutes later and you're feeling like you need another cup of coffee and a snack.

This is what happens when you start the morning off with a high carb or high sugar breakfast without protein. Generally speaking, you'll feel satisfied immediately after eating, but that hunger and fatigue comes back about 1-2 hours later.

woman sleeping at her desk

Basically, once your high carb meal digests, insulin pulls sugar out of the bloodstream and into your cells for storage. Your blood sugar drops, and you immediately feel tired and like you need to eat again.

Carbs are by no means bad - they're the body's preferred fuel source after all - but at a meal (especially in the morning), they need to be mixed with protein and a little fat to counteract their aggressive impact on blood sugar.

A high protein breakfast mixed with carbs – one filled with things like eggs and toast, Greek yogurt with fruit, nut butters, or a protein smoothie – steadies the blood sugar and helps keep your ghrelin levels lower (3).

Studies find that when you skip breakfast, you’re much more likely to eat high sugar and high fat foods in the evening

What if I’m not hungry in the morning?

Many people say that they’re not hungry first thing in the morning and that’s honestly okay. While it’s best to eat within 1 hour of waking, especially if you’re trying to build muscle or are an athlete, there’s nothing wrong with waiting until you get hungry to eat.

That being said, plan to eat a late breakfast – don’t just skip and wait for lunch because you think you’ve missed your window. If you usually get hungry at work or school around 10 am for example, pack a protein-rich breakfast and bring it with you to eat at that time. You’ll find that eating gives you a boost of energy you didn’t know you needed, which will result in better focus and possibly even improved food choices throughout the day.

How to start properly fueling in the morning.

healthy frittata

Like any other habit, eating breakfast regularly will take time to get used to. If you’re not a breakfast eater, start by committing to breakfast half the days of the week. Eventually your body will get used to a morning meal and you’ll actually start to feel hungry earlier. This is a good sign that your metabolism is revving up!

To get you started, I’ve included a few easy breakfast ideas below. Enjoy!

  • Hard boiled or scrambled eggs (Either scramble the night before and reheat, or you can actually scramble eggs in the microwave!)

  • Baked egg cups

  • Sandwich with either eggs or deli meat

  • Frozen breakfast burrito or sandwich (examples: Jimmy Dean Delights, Special K Flatbreads, Amy’s Breakfast Burrito, or EVOL sandwich/burrito)

  • Protein-packed chia pudding

  • Cottage cheese with fruit or tomatoes and cucumbers

  • Greek yogurt with fruit

  • Protein pancakes with peanut butter

  • Peanut butter or almond butter on a tortilla wrapped around a banana


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