My husband, Jon, can be awake for hours before he wants to eat breakfast. (Coffee-now that's another story.) I, on the other hand, want food first thing in the morning-and so does our 1 1/2-year-old son, Julian, who literally wakes up saying, "Juice! 'Nana! [banana]." We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (click here for healthy breakfast ideas) and, as a nutritionist, I believe that's true. You've heard about the studies that show that kids who eat breakfast are able to focus better in school, right? Well, here's another exciting boon of breakfast: research that shows people who are most successful at losing weight-and keeping it off-tend to eat breakfast every single day.
So what should you eat for breakfast if you want to lose weight? Honestly, any nutritious morning meal is a good choice. (Aim for about 300-350 calories-try one of these breakfasts.) Part of why breakfast is so valuable in weight loss is that it sets you up for healthy eating patterns for the whole day. (Skip it and, come mid morning, you're much more vulnerable to whatever junk food is lingering around the office, which continues a vicious cycle: you pay penance by having a skimpy salad for lunch...then you're starving by 3:00 and hit the vending machine. You get the picture.) But the best breakfast choices tend to be things that will keep you satisfied for hours, and contain protein and fiber. Here are three of my favorites:
Egg & Salmon Sandwich (214 calories): Research has shown that eggs are fabulously satiating and I find that, indeed, they tend to fill me up more than most other foods. Sometimes I'll make this recipe with one whole egg instead of two egg whites. It does add a little bit of saturated fat but you also get vitamin D (a nutrient your body needs to absorb calcium properly) as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that may help keep eyes healthy. If I don't have smoked salmon, I'll substitute a slice of low-fat cheese. I like to pair this with a non fat latte (that I make at home), which has about 130 calories. Mmmm...
Overnight Oatmeal (193 calories): I absolutely love this stuff, which really does stick to my ribs (it's all that great fiber). I usually put it together on a Sunday night before bed-I'll set a timer for the slow cooker when I hit the sack early. When I wake up Monday morning-voila!-I have breakfast ready for the whole week! Stirring in some 1% milk makes it super-creamy and adds a little protein and calcium to boot.
Peanut Butter-Cinnamon English Muffin (247 calories): This simple stand by is perfect for busy mornings. (Confession: I have a 45-minute commute and often eat in the car. This is a great portable option.) Peanut butter offers some fiber, a little protein as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fat-which goes a long way to keeping me feeling satisfied. The cinnamon topping makes it special and hits the spot when I'm hankering for something sweet. I usually pair it with a banana or an apple for a more substantial meal.
By Nicci Micco
Nicci Micco is deputy editor of features and nutrition at EatingWell and co-author of EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners. She has a master's degree in nutrition and food sciences, with a focus in weight management. She's addicted to ice cream and pizza. But she also can't imagine going a week without eating sweet potatoes, salad greens or kidney beans. Kale and beets also rank at the top of her favorite-foods list.
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