It’s impossible to overstate the importance of a healthy breakfast when it comes to weight loss. The right breakfast will give you the energy you need to take on the day, smash your workouts, and burn calories in order to kick those extra pounds to the curb. However, “right” is the operative word here; not all breakfasts are equal, and there are a few bad breakfast habits that could be slowing your metabolism and holding you back from your goal weight.
To learn more about why breakfast is crucial to your overall health and discover some of the worst, metabolism-slowing breakfast mistakes, we spoke to nutrition expert Anastasia Gialouris, MS, RD, CDN. She told us that you should never skip breakfast—or skip protein. Find all of her insight below!
1. Skipping breakfast
While you may think that eating as little as possible is the best way to lose weight, Gialouris tells us this is far from the truth. As it turns out, one of the worst things you can do for your metabolism is skip breakfast altogether. Your body goes for a long time without food when you sleep at night, which means you should nourish it when you wake up.
"Your metabolism has been resting throughout the night and is already at a low upon waking due to the lack of work it needed to do in the previous hours, when it did not have to digest any new food coming in," Gialouris expalins. "Eating breakfast can hence jump-start your metabolism and get it back up and running. On the flip side, if you skip breakfast, your body remains in this 'fasted' state, causing your metabolism to slow down due to a lack of stimulus (aka food)." Yikes! This is just one of the many reasons starting your morning with a nutritious, filling meal that can keep you satiated and energized throughout the day is a crucial healthy habit, especially when it comes to weight loss.
2. Not eating enough protein
Okay, so you're committed to eating breakfast each morning. That's a great start, but it's only half the battle. It's vital that you choose the food you eat wisely; well-balanced meals are crucial to your weight loss journey. "Another habit that can be affecting your metabolism is noshing on an unbalanced breakfast, specifically one that is low in protein," Gialouris tells us. In fact, eating a protein-packed breakfast is one of the best things you can do to boost your metabolism. "Not only does protein contribute to satiety (aka feeling satisfied after a meal), but it can also increase your body’s ability to burn calories, more so than carbs and fat," she says. "This is due to something called the 'thermic effect of food' or TEF, which is a slight increase in metabolic rate after ingestion of food."
How exactly does that work? Gialouris gives us a run-down: "When you eat, your body must actually expend some energy (aka burn calories) to digest, absorb, and store the nutrients in the food you've just consumed." And when it comes to foods with high TEFs, protein is the best. For this reason, Gialouris says that "including a protein source in your breakfast such as eggs, yogurt, nuts, to name a few, can help boost your metabolism." Perfect!
The bottom line
Whether or not breakfast is the most important meal of the day, there's no denying that it's extremely important, especially if you're trying to keep your metabolism up and shed a few pounds. So, make sure you always give your body the food it needs in the morning, and make sure you always add some protein to the mix!