You know that eating breakfast in the morning can keep you from bingeing later in the day and possibly help you lose weight. The only problem: Most of us are straight-up zombies first thing in the morning and end up eating like one, mindlessly scarfing down whatever is in our path.
The Ultimate Pounds-Dropping Breakfast Formula
But turning your breakfast into weight-loss fuel doesn't actually take much brainpower. All you need is fiber from whole-grain carbohydrates or fruit, protein, and healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat, says Jaime Mass, R.D., of Jaime Mass Nutritionals. Make sure your morning meal has the perfect combo of pounds-dropping nutrients by aiming for roughly five to 10 grams of fiber from a carbohydrate source, about 14 to 20 grams of super-filling protein, and around seven to 13 grams of craving-crushing healthy fat.
"The most important thing about breakfast is the mix of nutrients," says nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants and author of Read It Before You Eat It. "This healthy combination is the perfect way to get energized for the day and help you focus," she says.
Why It Actually Works
Here's how these nutrients also work together to help you lose weight: The fiber in your meal absorbs water to keep you fuller longer, which means you won't overeat at lunchtime because you're starving, says Mass. And since fiber also supports healthy digestion, you're not going to feel bloated. Plus, when your digestive tract is running smoothly, your body absorbs more nutrients so you have energy to hit the gym, she says.
The other key players in this weight loss-friendly breakfast—protein and healthy fat—slow down the digestion of fiber, sugar, and carbohydrates to level out your blood sugar and prevent crashes. And when your blood sugar is stable, you're more likely to make healthier choices throughout the day (i.e., make it to your workouts and avoid impulsively eating snacks when you're not hungry).
What Else You Should Keep in Mind
In addition to noshing on the perfect mix of nutrients, keeping an eye on the portion of your breakfast will also help you reach your weight-loss goals (okay, we'll take our Captain Obvious hat off now). But the exact amount you should be eating really depends on your height and weight, says Mass. For the average active woman looking to drop pounds, Mass recommends keeping your breakfast somewhere around 300 to 350 calories.
Now that you've got all that info, we're about to break it down so you never have to think about it again. Here, we bring you five perfect a.m. meals that meet these fat-burning requirements. Say goodbye to pre-lunch hanger, baby!
The breakfast: 1 medium apple, sliced, topped with 2 Tbsp of almond butter mixed with 1 Tbsp of protein powder
Why it works: The extra protein from the powder gives your nut butter a protein boost without adding a ton of calories, says Mass.
MAKES ONE SERVING. Per serving: 370 cal, 20 g fat (2 g sat), 30 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 4 mg sodium, 6 g of fiber, 22.2 g protein
The breakfast: A piece of whole-grain toast topped with about 3 Tbsp mashed avocado and 1 hard-boiled egg, sliced
Why it works: Eggs are a great source of a.m. protein, but if you don't have time to make scrambled eggs or an omelet, keep a stash of hard-boiled eggs to make this quick recipe, says Taub-Dix.
MAKES ONE SERVING. Per serving: 208 cal, 12 g fat (3 g sat), 15 g carbs, 1.5 g sugar, 62 mg sodium, 6 g of fiber, 12 g protein
The breakfast: A smoothie made with 1/2 cup berries, 6 oz nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 Tbsp chia seeds, and 1 Tbsp almond butter
Why it works: Nuts slow the absorption of the carbs, says Taub-Dix, which means they won’t give you a blood-sugar surge.
MAKES ONE SERVING. Per serving: 381 cal, 19 g fat (2 g sat), 33 g carbs, 9.5 g sugar, 5 mg sodium, 11 g of fiber, 26 g protein
The breakfast: 1/2 cup oatmeal mixed with 1/2 scoop protein powder (whey, soy, or hemp) and 1 1/2 Tbsp of your favorite nuts (almonds are great) and 1/2 cup fresh berries (any kind).
Why it works: Not only is this breakfast super-easy and full of fat-burning nutrients, it also contains tons of antioxidants and fiber, says Mass.
MAKES ONE SERVING. Per serving: 227 cal, 8 g fat (0 g sat), 23 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 4 g of fiber, 15 g protein
The breakfast: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt topped with 1/2 cup breakfast cereal (pick a kind that contains more than 5 grams of fiber per serving), 1/4 cup berries, apples, or pears, and 7 walnut halves
Why it works: "I love this breakfast option because it is convenient and easy to grab," says Mass. Three words: no cooking involved.
MAKES ONE SERVING. Per serving: 287 cal, 10g fat (1 g sat), 29g carbs, 9 g sugar, 44 mg sodium, 7g of fiber, 27g protein
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