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How Important is Breakfast for Weight Loss?

I was delighted to be invited to WLOS to discuss the topic of breakfast with Evan Donovan on the topic how important is breakfast for weight loss. This topic has recently resurfaced again on the internet with a recent article in the Washington Post by Peter Whoriskey on August 10, 2015 which led to a small wave of other blog posts.

Mr. Whoriskey’s article mentioned two research studies that were done on the topic of breakfast eating and weight status. He mentioned that many of the studies done in the past were observational studies and he shared Columbia University Study Looking at Skipping Breakfast and Weight.

This small study consisted of only 36 people consisted of half women and half men. These people were randomly assigned to eat oatmeal, cornflakes or to skip breakfast for four weeks.

At the end of the study, it was found that the people eating oatmeal felt less hungry and felt fuller than the people who did not eat breakfast. But the 12 people who skipped breakfast lost weight compared to the two that ate breakfast.

Although this was a clinical trial, the number of people involved was so small and the time that they were studied was so short, the results need to be replicated with a larger number of people and they need to be studied for a much longer period of time. Mr. Whoriskey also did not mention that the group that skipped breakfast had higher cholesterol levels.

Other research looking at “is breakfast essential for weight loss”?

Mr. Whoriskey also mentioned Dr. David Allison at University of Alabama Birmingham who did a meta-analysis in 2013 which looked at several observational studies and determined that people who ate breakfast who lost weight may have had other factors that led to this and there is uncertainty to the benefit of breakfast itself.

In conclusion, Dr. Allison believed that more research needs to be done in the area of breakfast and weight. You can read about the research here.

In preparing to answer questions about these findings, I was able to dig even further and find another interesting article by Emily Dhurandhar, David Allison and colleagues which included 283 people who were randomized in a clinical trial which was 16 weeks long. People were assigned to either a control group, a breakfast group or a group who did not eat breakfast.

In the study, there was little difference between the weights of the breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers. However, in this study these participants were not given specific guidelines of what to eat for breakfast which can make a difference in a scientific study. You can read about this study here clinical trial at UAB.

I looked at some words of wisdom by Dr. David Katz about the findings of this clinical trial at UAB and here is his summary of the findings of UAB clinical trail. Dr. Katz mentioned there could be a benefit to some foods that are served at breakfast are rich in fiber, vitamin D, calcium and protein foods. But he mentioned the fact that some of us may eat it later in the day to eat may not be harmful to our health.

I also felt that Ashley Oerman did a great article in September 2014 on “The Truth About Breakfast and Weight Loss: Does It Really Help You Drop Pounds?” You can read about it here Women’s Health Article on Eating Breakfast and Weight Status. 

Ashley went beyond the UAB study and discussed some others out there. She concluded that if someone does eat breakfast and wants to lose weight, it is important to watch what is on the plate.

She also concluded that for those of us who like to eat breakfast or who are hungry in the morning, that we do not need to be concerned that a healthy breakfast will contribute to weight gain but in addition for those people who don’t want to eat breakfast, it may not be a contributor to weight gain.

Breakfast Research Analysis

After reading all of this interesting research on breakfast, I have also come to a few conclusions:

  1. It appears that eating breakfast has been linked to an increased metabolism because breakfast eaters are more often also more physically active.
  2. Breakfast may be related to decreased hunger later in the day which may prevent overeating later on in the day (especially if breakfast skipping is combined with lunch skipping which may lead to overeating later on in the day).
  3. Breakfast is a great time to get extra nutrition in your diet like fiber, vitamin D, calcium, protein, vitamin C and many phytonutrients which are the healthy plant chemical found naturally in plant-based foods.
  4. Breakfast eaters are also more likely to have other healthy habits like not smoking and consuming less fat and alcohol.
  5. There is some correlation between skipping breakfast and increase in diseases like type II diabetes and heart disease but it is not certain if correlation is due to eating breakfast itself or what might be eaten later in the day.

Favorite Breakfast Ideas for a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

I know for myself, I feel better when I eat breakfast. I like to focus on protein, vegetables and whole grains. When people are eating breakfast, it provides them an additional meal to get needed nutrients like calcium, fiber, vitamin C and B vitamins. But choosing less healthy options, it can lead to excess calories, fat, salt and sugar.

One of my other favorite breakfasts is Greek yogurt, berries or peaches, nuts and granola. Here are some of my favorite breakfast ideas that I hope that you will enjoy!

egg tacos
Tacos for breakfast are one of my favorite things to eat.

Breakfast Egg Tacos

I love Mexican food for breakfast with lots of veggies! You can make egg tacos or make them vegan by using tofu or tempeh. Some of my favorite vegetables to include are bell pepper, green onion and tomato! I also love breakfast burritos and even a Mexican tortilla casserole!

Quinoa with apples

Breakfast Quinoa with Apples and Pecans

Think beyond oatmeal for a hot breakfast cereal, this breakfast quinoa is high in protein and has a unique texture. Other grains that can be used for breakfast include millet, buckwheat, wheat berry, brown rice and even amaranth.

I used apples and pecans in this breakfast grain but you can use berries or peaches or whatever fruit you love. You also can change the nuts to walnuts or slivered almonds. The sky is the limit to the combinations that you can create!

breakfast bowl
Grits bowls using local stone ground grits and No Evil Foods chorizo is a breakfast treat!

Grit Bowl

Use what you have on hand to make a grit bowl. You can even substitute other grains like quinoa or rice. Use leftover veggies or cook some up. I love the combination of sweet potatoes and greens but you can use what you like. This bowl uses the choriizo from No Evil Foods but you could use eggs or even tempeh.

breakfast salad
Salad for breakfast can be a tasty and healthy choice!

Breakfast Salad

I love the breakfast salad from Sunny Point Cafe but sometimes it is so hard to get a table so I tried to recreate their breakfast salad. For those who love it too, give this a try and let me know what you think!

open BLT

Tempeh Bacon Sandwich

This crisp, smoky tempeh bacon with a little sweet is quite tasty. Make a little extra and you can use it for different recipes also. 

This is a topic that is still be debated with the recent results of a 2019 breakfast research study Whether or not we eat breakfast, may or may not break our success. There are a lot of good habits that we can include in a healthy lifestyle that can help us reach our health goals.

Are you a breakfast eater? What do you like for breakfast? Glad you stopped by! Take a look at some of my other tasty recipe ideas on my blog and recipe page!

As a registered dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, I am interested in looking at the latest nutrition research and determining how it affects not only my patients and readers but also me and my family.

The research determining “how important breakfast is for weight loss” may still be debated. The bottom line is that whether to eat breakfast or not and it’s benefit to our health may be as individual as each one of us. What we chose for breakfast and our physical activity and what we eat the rest of the day is a key piece to our health.

In case you missed my interview with Evan, here it is

Are you a breakfast eater? What do you like to eat for breakfast? How important is breakfast for weight loss? I would love to know! You can find lots of other breakfast ideas on the Vine Ripe Nutrition blog also, like this Color Tempeh Breakfast Scramble.

I would love to know if you give some of my suggestions in this blog post a try! Let me know!

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