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Why A Healthy Breakfast Is Key To Sustainable Weight Loss

A healthy breakfast gives you energy to remain physically active, reduces hunger and helps you make healthier food choices throughout the day. Include beneficial foods like eggs, whole grain oats, yogurt, chia seeds, flaxseeds, berries, grapefruit, avocado, kiwifruits, buttermilk, barley, and warming spices.

berries granola yogurt breakfast healthy bowl
Noni-Ingredient-Kapiva

The morning rush – we’re all familiar with it. And one of the first casualties of a busy morning is often breakfast. Or maybe you think that skipping breakfast is an easy way to cut calories. But while we all want to be a healthy weight – after all being overweight is linked to a host of complications from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis, sleep disorders, certain cancers, and high blood cholesterol – is skipping breakfast the best way of getting there?[1][Overweight and Obesity]. National Institutes of Health. Read on to find out why a healthy breakfast might actually help with weight management.

Why Is Breakfast Important?

Yes, having breakfast is associated with a lower risk for being overweight. But a healthy breakfast can offer so much more than that. Eating breakfast:

  1. Helps you function better: Breakfast gives you more energy and helps your body function optimally. But that’s not all. Studies have found that breakfast consumption is linked to improved school performance and learning in children. Skipping breakfast on the other hand, has been found to negatively impact problem solving, attention, and short term memory.[2]Giovannini, Marcello, E. Verduci, S. Scaglioni, E. Salvatici, M. Bonza, E. Riva, and C. Agostoni. “Breakfast: a good habit, not a repetitive custom.” Journal of International Medical … Continue reading
  2. Is good for your heart: In fact, research has observed that men who skip breakfast regularly have a 27% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease than those who have breakfast.[3][Skipping breakfast may increase coronary heart disease risk]. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  3. Lowers your risk for diabetes: Some research indicates that people who skip breakfast experience a 55% higher risk for type 2 diabetes.[4][Do You Really Need to Eat Breakfast?].Cleveland Clinic.

According to experts, 20 to 35% of your daily calories should come from breakfast. And it’s also important to keep in mind that the quality of your breakfast is important too, that is, it’s important to have a healthy breakfast.[5]Ferrer-Cascales, Rosario, Miriam Sánchez-SanSegundo, Nicolás Ruiz-Robledillo, Natalia Albaladejo-Blázquez, Ana Laguna-Pérez, and Ana Zaragoza-Martí. “Eat or skip breakfast? The important … Continue reading

The benefits of breakfast are recognized by the ancient science of ayurveda too. Ayurvedic texts mention that the consumption of food in the morning enhances life span, memory, energy, luster, and complexion.[6]Dharmarathna, A. B., and K. C. Perera. “The relationship between breakfast behaviour and Body Mass Index (BMI)–a randomized clinical trial.” (2018). Skipping breakfast is thought to irritate “sadhaka pitta”, which is a subdosha of pitta dosha. When sadhaka pitta helps maintain an even temper and when it is in balance you experience a sense of contentment and joy. On the other hand, when it is not balanced you can experience unsettled emotions and irritability.

Is Skipping Breakfast Good For Weight Loss?

When it comes to weight management, the simple principle at play is that you need to expend more energy (calories) than you consume. So what you consume over the course of the day is more important than whether you have breakfast or not. It’s a good idea to follow one of the principles of ayurveda here – eat only when you’re hungry. Listen to your body.[7]Guha, Amala. “Ayurvedic concept of food and nutrition.” (2006). But some research does indicate that having breakfast might help with weight management. Studies in children and teenagers have shown that skipping breakfast is linked to:

  • being overweight
  • having a higher BMI (body mass index)
  • consuming more unhealthy snacks, poorer overall dietary quality, and a diet poor in fruits and vegetables[8]Giovannini, Marcello, E. Verduci, S. Scaglioni, E. Salvatici, M. Bonza, E. Riva, and C. Agostoni. “Breakfast: a good habit, not a repetitive custom.” Journal of International Medical … Continue reading [9][Does eating a healthy breakfast help control weight?]. Mayo Clinic.

How Does Breakfast Help With Weight Management?

Here are a few reasons why breakfast might be beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight.

  • It helps reduce hunger: It’s harder to avoid overeating when you’re hungry. You’re also more likely to reach for something convenient and unhealthy when you’re struck by hunger pangs. Having breakfast may lower your craving for foods high in fat or sugar.
  • It helps you make healthier food choices: A healthy breakfast may put you on track for choosing healthier foods throughout the day.
  • It gives you energy: A healthy breakfast supplies your body with energy. Skipping breakfast regularly is linked to reduced physical activity.[10][Does eating a healthy breakfast help control weight?]. Mayo Clinic.

What Elements Make For A Healthy Breakfast?

Here are a few important elements:

  • Whole grains: contain more fiber (as well as more nutrients) than refined grains. And fiber adds bulk to food and helps you feel full more quickly. Research shows that a higher intake of whole grains is linked to a lower BMI.[11]Maki, Kevin C., Orsolya M. Palacios, Katie Koecher, Caleigh M. Sawicki, Kara A. Livingston, Marjorie Bell, Heather Nelson Cortes, and Nicola M. McKeown. “The relationship between whole grain … Continue reading [12][Dietary Fiber]. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  • Low-fat dairy: Studies have found that having at least 3 servings of dairy products in a day can speed up body fat and weight loss. Calcium appears to play an important role here.[13]Zemel, Michael B. “The role of dairy foods in weight management.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 24, no. sup6 (2005): 537S-546S.
  • Lean protein: Research indicates that people on reduced calorie diets experience greater fat mass loss and weight loss if their diets have higher levels of protein.[14]Leidy, Heather J., Peter M. Clifton, Arne Astrup, Thomas P. Wycherley, Margriet S. Westerterp-Plantenga, Natalie D. Luscombe-Marsh, Stephen C. Woods, and Richard D. Mattes. “The role of protein … Continue reading Lean meat, eggs, nuts, and legumes are good sources of protein.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Research shows that fruit and vegetable intake contributes to weight loss. However, we’re talking about non starchy vegetables here, so those potato fries will actually cause you to gain weight.[15] Dreher, Mark L., and Nikki A. Ford. “A comprehensive critical assessment of increased fruit and vegetable intake on weight loss in Women.” Nutrients 12, no. 7 (2020): 1919.

Include foods from at least 3 of these groups to have a healthy breakfast. Taken together, they give you protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates and a little fat. The whole package that’s not only healthy, but also keeps you feeling full for a long time.[16][Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options].Mayo Clinic.

You can even tweak your favorite recipes so that they fit the fill. For instance, if your favorite breakfast is idli sambar then try making the idlis with brown rice and add extra lentils and lots of veggies to your sambar.

What Ayurvedic Tips To Follow For A Healthy Breakfast?

Though ayurveda has specific dietary recommendations tailored for each body constitution or prakriti some general guidelines can be followed by all constitutions. These include:

  • Having foods that are warm, bitter, light, pungent, or astringent can help pacify kapha dosha. Also limit the consumption of sweet, sour, salty, and oily foods.
  • Barley and wheat are considered to be particularly helpful in aiding weight loss according to ayurveda.
  • Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, banana stem, and carrots that are rich in fiber are a great addition to your diet. As are bitter gourd, leafy greens, and radish.
  • It’s a good idea to add legumes to your diet.
  • According to ayurveda it’s extremely beneficial to have fruits in the morning. They help create ojas which contributes to vitality, immunity, strength, and well being. Have fruits in moderation – apples, berries, pomegranate, and pears are good options. But avoid having acidic fruits with milk products.
  • Try buttermilk. It is thought to aid the metabolism of fat. You can add curry leaves, roasted cumin, and Himalayan salt for a nutritious and delicious drink.
  • Include warming spices such as dried ginger, black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom in your diet.
  • Opt for whole foods where possible and avoid junk food, fried food, sweets, and cold, frozen or canned foods.

What Are Some Good Options To Include In Your Breakfast?

Here are a few foods that can be included in your breakfast as part of a healthy balanced diet:

1. Banana

These convenient fruits are a great breakfast food. They contain fiber which helps with weight loss as well as resistant starch. Resistant starch is digested slowly and therefore, promotes a feeling of satiety. Research also indicates that banana consumption is linked to reduced weight gain over time.[17][Bananas].Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

2. Eggs

One study found that people on a reduced calorie diet benefitted when they consumed eggs rather than bagels for breakfast even though both the breakfasts contained the same amount of calories. In fact, after 8 weeks the people who had eggs experienced 61% greater reduction in BMI, 65% greater weight loss, 16% greater reduction in percent body fat, and 34% greater reduction in waist circumference.[18]Vander Wal, J. S., Alok Gupta, Pramod Khosla, and N. V. Dhurandhar. “Egg breakfast enhances weight loss.” International Journal of obesity 32, no. 10 (2008): 1545-1551.

3. Yogurt

Research indicates that yogurt consumption is linked to lower body mass index, lower body fat, and smaller waist circumference.[19]Eales, J., I. Lenoir-Wijnkoop, S. King, H. Wood, F. J. Kok, R. Shamir, A. Prentice, M. Edwards, J. Glanville, and R. L. Atkinson. “Is consuming yoghurt associated with weight management … Continue reading Experts suggest that high protein yogurt (for instance Greek yogurt ) can be more helpful as protein promotes satiety. And make sure you skip yogurt which contains added sugar.Yoghurt consumption is associated with lower body mass index, lower body weight/weight gain, smaller waist circumference and lower body fat in epidemiological studies. RCTs (randomized controlled trials) suggest weight reduction effects, but do not permit determination of a cause–effect relationship. Well-controlled, adequately powered trials in research and community settings appear likely to identify a modest but beneficial effect of yoghurt consumption for prevention of weight gain and management of obesity. The ready availability of yoghurt (a nutrient-dense food) and its ease of introduction to most diets suggests that educating the public to eat yoghurt as part of a balanced and healthy diet may potentially contribute to improved public health. Future carefully designed RCTs could provide proof of principle and large community-based studies could determine the practical impact of yoghurt on body weight/composition.[20][Your complete guide to choosing a yogurt to meet your needs]. Harvard Health Publishing.

4. Oats

Consuming oats can help with weight management, a study suggests. In one study where people were put on a low fat high fiber healthy diet it was found that the group that wholegrain oats instead of other cereals had a significantly greater reduction in body weight over the long term. The soluble fiber present in oats is thought to be responsible for this beneficial effect.[21]Li, Xue, Xiaxia Cai, Xiaotao Ma, Lulu Jing, Jiaojiao Gu, Lei Bao, Jun Li, Meihong Xu, Zhaofeng Zhang, and Yong Li. “Short-and long-term effects of wholegrain oat intake on weight management and … Continue reading

5. Chia seeds

Research indicates that people on a reduced calorie diet experience greater weight loss and reduction in waist circumference when they include chia seeds in their diet. The high fiber content of these seeds appears to be responsible for their beneficial role in weight management.[22]Vuksan, V., A. L. Jenkins, C. Brissette, L. Choleva, E. Jovanovski, A. L. Gibbs, R. P. Bazinet et al. “Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) in the treatment of overweight and obese patients with … Continue reading According to experts, 2 tablespoons or 1 ounce makes for a serving of chia seeds.[23][Chia Seeds for Health: The Tiny Superfood?]. International Food Information Council. And do keep in mind that it is best to add chia seeds to water or liquid foods before you have them since they could swell up and block your food pipe if you have them dry. So mix them into yogurt, smoothies, soups, fruit juice etc.[24][Chia Seeds].Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

6. Flaxseed

Studies show that adding flaxseeds to your diet can help reduce BMI, body weight, and waist circumference. Lignans and fiber present in them are thought to contribute to this beneficial effect.[25]Mohammadi‐Sartang, M., Z. Mazloom, H. Raeisi‐Dehkordi, R. Barati‐Boldaji, N. Bellissimo, and J. O. Totosy de Zepetnek. “The effect of flaxseed supplementation on body weight and body … Continue readingAccording to experts, you can have about 2 tablespoons of flaxseed a day. You can add them to salads, yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, etc. But remember to use ground flaxseeds as whole flaxseeds may pass through your system without being broken down.[26][Flaxseed: Little Seed, Big Benefits].Cleveland Clinic.

Precaution:

  • Avoid flaxseed during pregnancy.[27][Flaxseed and flaxseed oil]. Mayo Clinic.

7. Berries

Animal studies show that extracts from blueberries, blackberries, and mulberries can help inhibit body weight gain in participants fed a high fat diet. Compounds known anthocyanins present in these berries are considered to account for this effect.[28]Wu, Tao, Qiong Tang, Zichun Gao, Zhuoping Yu, Haizhao Song, Xiaodong Zheng, and Wei Chen. “Blueberry and mulberry juice prevent obesity development in C57BL/6 mice.” PLoS One 8, no. 10 … Continue reading [29]Wu, Tao, Yufang Gao, Xueqi Guo, Min Zhang, and Lingxiao Gong. “Blackberry and blueberry anthocyanin supplementation counteract high-fat-diet-induced obesity by alleviating oxidative stress and … Continue reading

8. Grapefruit

One study found that consuming half a fresh grapefruit or 8 ounces of grapefruit juice thrice a day before meals was helpful in weight loss. Over 12 weeks, those who had the grapefruit lost 1.6 kg while those who had grapefruit juice lost 1.5 kg. Consuming grapefruit also improved insulin resistance.[30]Fujioka, Ken, Frank Greenway, Judy Sheard, and Yu Ying. “The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: relationship to the metabolic syndrome.” Journal of medicinal food 9, … Continue reading

9. Avocado

A health and nutrition survey in the U.S found that avocado consumption was linked to lower body weight, waist circumference, and BMI even though there was no difference in calorie intake between those who consumed avocados and those who didn’t. Avocados are a great source of dietary fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), and phytochemicals.[31]Fulgoni, Victor L., Mark Dreher, and Adrienne J. Davenport. “Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: … Continue reading

10. Kiwi

One study among obese and overweight participants found that consuming two golden kiwifruit every day for 6 weeks not only reduced body fat mass but also improved blood pressure. The researchers observe that the addition of kiwifruit significantly increased the daily dietary fiber intake of participants.[32]Yang, Hsin-Yi, Wan-Hsuan Wang, Jun-Ye Zhan, Ya-Ling Huang, and Wei-Yi Cheng. “Beneficial Effects of Golden Kiwifruit Consumption in Overweight and Obese Young Adults.” Journal of … Continue reading

Precautions

  • Do take into account any food intolerances (such as lactose intolerance) or food allergies that you may have while planning your breakfast.
  • Suddenly increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can lead to bloating, gas, and cramps. Therefore, increase the amount of fiber in your diet gradually. And make sure you drink sufficient fluids.[33][Dietary fibre](https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/fibre-in-food “Dietary fibre”).Better Health Channel.

References

References
1 [Overweight and Obesity]. National Institutes of Health.
2, 8 Giovannini, Marcello, E. Verduci, S. Scaglioni, E. Salvatici, M. Bonza, E. Riva, and C. Agostoni. “Breakfast: a good habit, not a repetitive custom.” Journal of International Medical Research 36, no. 4 (2008): 613-624.
3 [Skipping breakfast may increase coronary heart disease risk]. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
4 [Do You Really Need to Eat Breakfast?].Cleveland Clinic.
5 Ferrer-Cascales, Rosario, Miriam Sánchez-SanSegundo, Nicolás Ruiz-Robledillo, Natalia Albaladejo-Blázquez, Ana Laguna-Pérez, and Ana Zaragoza-Martí. “Eat or skip breakfast? The important role of breakfast quality for health-related quality of life, stress and depression in Spanish adolescents.” International journal of environmental research and public health 15, no. 8 (2018): 1781.
6 Dharmarathna, A. B., and K. C. Perera. “The relationship between breakfast behaviour and Body Mass Index (BMI)–a randomized clinical trial.” (2018).
7 Guha, Amala. “Ayurvedic concept of food and nutrition.” (2006).
9, 10 [Does eating a healthy breakfast help control weight?]. Mayo Clinic.
11 Maki, Kevin C., Orsolya M. Palacios, Katie Koecher, Caleigh M. Sawicki, Kara A. Livingston, Marjorie Bell, Heather Nelson Cortes, and Nicola M. McKeown. “The relationship between whole grain intake and body weight: results of meta-analyses of observational studies and randomized controlled trials.” Nutrients 11, no. 6 (2019): 1245.
12 [Dietary Fiber]. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
13 Zemel, Michael B. “The role of dairy foods in weight management.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 24, no. sup6 (2005): 537S-546S.
14 Leidy, Heather J., Peter M. Clifton, Arne Astrup, Thomas P. Wycherley, Margriet S. Westerterp-Plantenga, Natalie D. Luscombe-Marsh, Stephen C. Woods, and Richard D. Mattes. “The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 101, no. 6 (2015): 1320S-1329S.
15 Dreher, Mark L., and Nikki A. Ford. “A comprehensive critical assessment of increased fruit and vegetable intake on weight loss in Women.” Nutrients 12, no. 7 (2020): 1919.
16 [Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options].Mayo Clinic.
17 [Bananas].Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
18 Vander Wal, J. S., Alok Gupta, Pramod Khosla, and N. V. Dhurandhar. “Egg breakfast enhances weight loss.” International Journal of obesity 32, no. 10 (2008): 1545-1551.
19 Eales, J., I. Lenoir-Wijnkoop, S. King, H. Wood, F. J. Kok, R. Shamir, A. Prentice, M. Edwards, J. Glanville, and R. L. Atkinson. “Is consuming yoghurt associated with weight management outcomes? Results from a systematic review.” International Journal of Obesity 40, no. 5 (2016): 731-746.
20 [Your complete guide to choosing a yogurt to meet your needs]. Harvard Health Publishing.
21 Li, Xue, Xiaxia Cai, Xiaotao Ma, Lulu Jing, Jiaojiao Gu, Lei Bao, Jun Li, Meihong Xu, Zhaofeng Zhang, and Yong Li. “Short-and long-term effects of wholegrain oat intake on weight management and glucolipid metabolism in overweight type-2 diabetics: a randomized control trial.” Nutrients 8, no. 9 (2016): 549.
22 Vuksan, V., A. L. Jenkins, C. Brissette, L. Choleva, E. Jovanovski, A. L. Gibbs, R. P. Bazinet et al. “Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) in the treatment of overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes: A double-blind randomized controlled trial.” Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases 27, no. 2 (2017): 138-146.
23 [Chia Seeds for Health: The Tiny Superfood?]. International Food Information Council.
24 [Chia Seeds].Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
25 Mohammadi‐Sartang, M., Z. Mazloom, H. Raeisi‐Dehkordi, R. Barati‐Boldaji, N. Bellissimo, and J. O. Totosy de Zepetnek. “The effect of flaxseed supplementation on body weight and body composition: a systematic review and meta‐analysis of 45 randomized placebo‐controlled trials.” Obesity Reviews 18, no. 9 (2017): 1096-1107.
26 [Flaxseed: Little Seed, Big Benefits].Cleveland Clinic.
27 [Flaxseed and flaxseed oil]. Mayo Clinic.
28 Wu, Tao, Qiong Tang, Zichun Gao, Zhuoping Yu, Haizhao Song, Xiaodong Zheng, and Wei Chen. “Blueberry and mulberry juice prevent obesity development in C57BL/6 mice.” PLoS One 8, no. 10 (2013): e77585.
29 Wu, Tao, Yufang Gao, Xueqi Guo, Min Zhang, and Lingxiao Gong. “Blackberry and blueberry anthocyanin supplementation counteract high-fat-diet-induced obesity by alleviating oxidative stress and inflammation and accelerating energy expenditure.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity 2018 (2018).
30 Fujioka, Ken, Frank Greenway, Judy Sheard, and Yu Ying. “The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: relationship to the metabolic syndrome.” Journal of medicinal food 9, no. 1 (2006): 49-54.
31 Fulgoni, Victor L., Mark Dreher, and Adrienne J. Davenport. “Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008.” Nutrition journal 12, no. 1 (2013): 1-6.
32 Yang, Hsin-Yi, Wan-Hsuan Wang, Jun-Ye Zhan, Ya-Ling Huang, and Wei-Yi Cheng. “Beneficial Effects of Golden Kiwifruit Consumption in Overweight and Obese Young Adults.” Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology 66, no. Supplement (2020): S356-S360.
33 [Dietary fibre](https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/fibre-in-food “Dietary fibre”).Better Health Channel.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information pertaining to your personal needs please see a qualified health practitioner.

About the Author

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Dr. Manjula P. Badiger (KAA Expert)

Dr. Manjula has 12 years of experience in the field of Ayurveda and worked as a Consultant and General Physician for over 5 years before starting her private practice. In addition to BAMS, she also has an Advanced Diploma in Clinical Research and is trained in Panchkarma. She is an expert at diagnosis of the root cause and planning effective treatment for multiple issues.

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