I’ve always been a breakfast eater. It gives me a much-needed energy boost – along with a cup of coffee, of course – and it helps me from being so famished at lunch that I end up overeating.
But eating a morning meal is also a healthy habit if you’re watching your weight. Here’s why: Research shows that regular breakfast eaters tend to be leaner and dieters are more successful at losing weight – and keeping it off – when they eat breakfast.
What’s more, people who typically eat breakfast also get more fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, zinc and iron – and less fat and dietary cholesterol. Perhaps it’s because they often eat cereal, which is fortified with vitamins and minerals, and fruit, which is naturally nutrient-rich.
But that doesn’t mean you have to eat cereal to stay – or get – trim. Instead, mix-up your morning meal and try one or a few of these five breakfast foods that help you lose weight.
A cup of raspberries delivers a whopping 8 grams of fiber (that’s more than double what’s in a cup of strawberries and about the same amount in a cup of some types of beans). What’s so great about all that fiber? Recent research in the Journal of Nutrition suggests eating more fiber as a way to prevent weight gain or even encourage weight loss. Over the course of the two-year study, the researchers found that boosting fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories resulted in about 4-1/2 pounds of weight lost.
Oatmeal can help you lose weight in two ways. First, it’s packed with fiber and it keeps you feeling fuller longer. Second, a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition reported that eating a breakfast made with slow-release carbohydrates such as oatmeal or bran cereal three hours before you exercise may help you burn more fat.
How? Eating slow-release carbohydrates doesn’t spike blood sugar as high as eating refined carbohydrates (think: white toast). In turn, insulin levels don’t spike as high. Because insulin plays a role in signaling your body to store fat, having lower blood sugar levels may help you burn fat.
A recent report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and out of Harvard University, revealed which foods are correlated with weight change, including the top 5 foods that promote weight loss. Yogurt was one of them! Another reason to eat yogurt: The protein in it may give you an extra edge if you’re looking to get leaner.
When researchers fed two groups of mice a high-fat diet for 11 weeks, the mice that got water spiked with whey protein (a type of protein found naturally in yogurt and other dairy) packed on 42 percent less weight and nearly a third less body fat than the mice who just drank plain water, despite the fact that they ate roughly the same number of calories. The whey eaters also gained 7 percent more lean body mass (e.g., muscle mass). Save calories and unnecessary sugar by choosing plain yogurt. If you need a little extra sweetness, try fresh fruit (maybe raspberries?).
4. Peanut butter
Nuts were also among the top five foods that Harvard researchers said promote weight loss. I love to slather a tablespoon or two of peanut butter onto whole-wheat toast (ahem, a slow-release carbohydrate), but you could also add nuts to your oatmeal (another slow-release carb).
Eggs deliver protein, which is great for dieters. Compared to carbohydrates and fat, protein keeps you satisfied longer. Plus, in one study, dieters who ate eggs for breakfast felt fuller longer and lost more than twice as much weight as those who got the same amount of calories from a bagel for breakfast.
Eatingwell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.