Registered dietitians break down exactly what's so great about this delicious, easy-to-access food.
We’ve all heard the old adage about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. While its claim to the top spot on the meal hierarchy may be debatable, it is a fact that what you eat (or don’t eat) for breakfast can have a big impact on your weight and your health and fitness in general.
So it's wise to give careful thought to the foods you choose for that first meal of the day. That’s especially true if you are trying to get in better shape or avoid gaining weight.
Here at Parade.com, we're all about sharing products we love with our audience. When you make a purchase on an item seen on this page, we may earn a commission, however, all picks are independently chosen unless otherwise mentioned.
The One Food That Can Help You Avoid Gaining Weight
Experts agree that the one type of food for breakfast that can support your health and help you avoid gaining weight is anything with protein—and a specific type of yogurt called skyr may be a particularly wise choice.
Why protein is such an important part of breakfast
First things first: Why is protein so important at breakfast time? Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert and co-author of Sugar Shock says, “One study found that distributing your protein throughout the day—including getting adequate protein at breakfast—resulted in a greater decline in BMI and belly fat compared to eating most of your protein at dinner.”
Cassetty says there are several reasons why protein is especially beneficial at the start of the day. “When you sleep, your body breaks down muscle tissue, and if you don’t eat sufficient protein at breakfast, you’re missing the chance to rebuild your muscle, which can result in a metabolic slowdown over time. That’s because protein is needed to maintain muscle mass, and muscle is your body’s most energy-demanding tissue, so the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest.”
She adds that since protein is more filling than fat or carbs, eating protein-packed meals can help you feel fuller longer, which may help you eat less throughout the day.
Why you should try skyr yogurt
Yogurt can offer valuable health benefits, but there’s one variety that’s loaded with protein—even surpassing the typical protein content in Greek yogurt. This protein-packed wonder is called skyr, a traditional creamy yogurt that originated in Iceland.
“It’s helpful to eat about 20 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast, and ¾ cup of Siggi’s plain skyr yogurt helps you meet that mark with 19 grams of protein,” Cassetty explains. “This is my favorite way to get protein in the morning, whether paired with fruit and walnuts, stirred into oatmeal or spread over toast.”
While yogurt can have significant benefits for gut health, in addition to providing protein and other nutrients, a downside is the sugar content, which can often be high.
Cassetty says she recommends (and works with) Siggi’s yogurt because of the brand’s conscientiousness in this area. “A sugary diet can limit the diversity of your gut microbes and impair your sleep—both of which can interfere with your efforts to manage your weight,” she says. “So I’m very particular about the flavored yogurt I eat. I partner with Siggi’s because it’s the only leading brand of protein-packed yogurt that has no alternative sweeteners and a tame amount of added sugar, no matter which flavor you choose. It’s the only brand of flavored yogurt I’ll keep at home.”
Other Great Breakfast Options for Healthy Weight Management
Proteins and greens
Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, is a big fan of the “Proteins + Greens” strategy, which (as you can probably guess) involves combining high-protein foods with leafy green vegetables. You can choose from some of her suggested recipes or create your own combinations.
“With 190 calories per ¼-cup serving, it may surprise you that walnuts are one of the best foods to add to your breakfast to prevent weight gain,” Cassetty says, citing a study which found that even a relatively small increase in daily walnut consumption was linked to a lower risk of obesity. She notes that walnuts are rich in healthy fats, with 13 grams of polyunsaturated fat per ounce.
“Walnuts go well with other healthy breakfast foods, and given their unique nutritional makeup and beneficial health properties, they’re a great addition to your morning routine,” Cassetty says. “Try adding them to oatmeal or use them over whole grain or grain-free waffles and pancakes. I keep a container of toasted walnuts in the fridge and add them to all of my breakfast meals, including with fruit on the side of scrambled eggs. If you’re stashing them longer than a month, store walnuts in the freezer.”
Cassetty notes that eggs are a relatively inexpensive, versatile and easy-to-prepare breakfast option that’s a good source of protein and other nutrients—although people with certain health conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol may need to limit their daily egg consumption. If you’re short on time and seeking something quick and easy, try an option like Nellie’s Free Range Hard-Boiled Eggs that you can enjoy on the go.
Along with being beneficial for your digestive system, fiber tends to make you feel fuller longer than higher-calorie options. Try whipping up a tasty smoothie packed with leafy greens or enjoy some whole-grain cereal like Bob’s Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli or whole-grain bread like Food for Life's Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread.
Next up, find out the top workout mistake people make when trying to lose weight.