Saturday, May 8, 2010

Are breakfast eaters really slimmer?

You've seen the commercials... healthy breakfast... start to a healthy day, yada yada... but what could be wrong with skipping the morning meal when trying to lose weight, right? A lot, as it turns out. says that: Studies showed that athletes who consumed breakfast performed better in competition; kids who ate breakfast were able to concentrate more in class; adults who ate breakfast were able to control weight better than those who did not eat breakfast.

Wait.... WEIGHT?

Yes, avoiding the morning meal may be dampening your best efforts to stay slim. Breakfast, a word meaning "break the fast", kick-starts your metabolism in the morning. Also, people who eat a high-fiber breakfast are less likely to load up on higher calories in the evening, when your metabolism naturally slows down.

I was at a hotel breakfast bar recently, watching two XXL teens load up on biscuits, gravy, eggs, sausage, and orange juice. Let's take a look at this typical nutrition breakdown for biscuits and sausage gravy. While having a decent amount of protein, the "price" in calories, fat, and sodium per gram of protein is exorbitant.

Serving Size 1 biscuit with gravy

Amount Per Serving
Calories 508
Calories from Fat 285
Total Fat 31.65g 49%
Saturated Fat 7.249g 36%
Sodium 1461mg 61%

Nutrition Values are based on USDA Nutrient Database SR18

So obviously, that meal is not the breakfast of champions. But you don't have to love organic 100% bran flakes to get a productive jump on the day, and your BMI. Look for cereals, muffins and breads, and even berries, that have at least 5% fiber per serving. Not all muffins are created equal, and FIBER is the key. (Read labels for sugar calories, it's not always obvious by the taste.) On the weekend, eggs or whole-grain pancakes with blueberries also count as excellent choices for healthy weight control.

Oh, and what's that syrup you're pouring over your pancakes? If it says "syrup" check the label...uh oh, there it is: HIGH FRUCTOSE corn syrup, a product that I'll go into later. Let's just say for now, it doesn't belong on a healthy eater's table. Applesauce makes a nice substitute for syrup on pancakes.

The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) of over 16-thousand teens and young adults* revealed that the people who nearly always skipped breakfast had 4.5 times the risk of obesity as the subjects who did eat breakfast regularly. I mean, that's a 16,000 member clue. I'm taking the hint.


* Mota, J., Fidalgo, F., Silva R., et al. Relationships Between Physical Activity, Obesity and Meal Frequency in Adolescents. Annals of Human Biology, 2008; 35(1): 1-10.

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