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You may have heard that when it comes to the battle of the bulge, it’s best to start your day with a big breakfast. That way, you’ll have all day to burn off the calories. And, by filling yourself up first thing, you’ll be less likely to splurge on a mid-morning snack or gargantuan lunch.
Well, scratch that theory from your list of dieting to-dos. A new study published in the Nutrition Journal suggests that a big breakfast leads to eating more calories throughout the day, not less. The researchers asked 380 people to write down everything they ate for up to two weeks. When subjects indulged in a heartier breakfast than usual, they did not compensate by eating less later, as originally suspected. Instead, they ate the same amount of calories as usual. Eating a large breakfast, they found, increases the number of calories consumed and thus contributes to weight gain.
Of course, that’s not to say you should skip breakfast to lose weight. Instead, an easy way to cut calories and inches would be to eat a light and sensible breakfast, concludes the study’s lead author, Dr. Volker Schusdziarra, from the Else-Kröner-Fresenius Center of Nutritional Medicine in Munich.
Foods that were responsible for hiking up morning-meal calories included such lumberjack specials as sausage, eggs, yogurt, bread, breakfast cakes, butter, cheese and jam. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid these foods if you’re on a diet – though we don’t ever recommend eating sausage, breakfast cakes or butter -- only that you should be conscious of how quickly the calories can stack up when you do consume them. A bagel with low-fat cream cheese, for instance, will cost you nearly 500 calories. High in refined carbohydrates, it’s guaranteed to spike your blood sugar and leave you ravenous before lunchtime.
The best diet-friendly breakfast is one that has enough fiber and protein to fill you up and keep you full until your next meal, without a lot of sugar or saturated fat to weigh you down. Good choices include whole-wheat toast with a dab of peanut butter or an egg, low-sugar whole-grain cereal with fruit and low-fat milk, plain yogurt with flaxseed and fruit or egg whites scrambled with vegetables. Past research has found that people who eat eggs for breakfast lose 65 percent more weight than those who eat bagels for breakfast. Opt for egg whites if you’re watching your cholesterol.
If you do find yourself craving something before lunch, try a low-sodium vegetable juice, like V-8. It’s an easy way to add more veggies to your diet, and according to one study, it may even accelerate your weight loss.
What’s your favorite way to fill up at breakfast? Chime in below!