You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And although eating the right breakfast fuels your body, provides long-lasting energy and satiety, prevents overeating at lunch and sets the tone for the entire healthy day, we love all three meals. Each on is equally important in its own way. That being said, it’s not just eating breakfast that’s important, it’s choosing the right one. Consuming the wrong breakfast can be worse than eating no breakfast at all. And if you’re trying to muster up energy to work out and eat the right foods to get fit, eating the right breakfast is critical to your success.
Here are the top four breakfast mistakes—and how to fix them.
1. Mistake: You overindulged last night so you skip breakfast.
Studies show that roughly 31 million Americans skip breakfast. In fact, this is a common practice among health-conscience people who overdo it the night before. Waking up feeling bloated and stuffed, they decide to skip out on breakfast calories and let their bodies recover until lunch. This usually backfires because most people end up hungry by lunch and overeat. They also tend to make less healthy choices as they give in to hunger and rationalize that it’s O.K. to do so because they skipped breakfast.
The Solution: Grab a high-fiber food (like fruit, one-half cup cooked oatmeal) and combine it with protein (nonfat Greek yogurt, hardboiled egg, one-half cup low-fat cottage cheese, or one tablespoon of peanut butter) and make it your breakfast. You can eat it on the way out the door. This breakfast should contain about 200 calories, so it’s small enough that you can feel light, yet it still provides energy. It’s also large enough so that you won’t be overly ravenous by lunchtime and you won’t succumb to cravings and overindulging again.
2. Mistake: You skip breakfast, but drink coffee.
You may think you saved calories by tricking your body into feeling full, but once that caffeine high wears off, you’ll come crashing down and start searching for real food. You can only trick your body for so long before it wants a true source of fuel. In addition to being tired, you’re ravenous. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to make poor dietary choices and to overeat. It’s more challenging to turn down the pizza and fries in lieu of a salad at lunch.
The Solution: At the very least, start by going for the small breakfast solution offered in mistake #1. See how you feel by mid-morning and at lunchtime. You don’t have to ditch your coffee, but give your body fuel, too. Good options to slowly get your body used to breakfast: A small veggie omelet and a piece of whole-wheat toast; a tablespoon almond butter on a banana; or a half cup berries sprinkled in 6 ounces of non-fat Greek yogurt.
3. Mistake: You make a protein blunder, like eating a bowl of cold cereal or oatmeal with milk.
Nine times out of 10, this breakfast leaves you hungry by mid-morning—so you can’t concentrate, your energy crashes and by lunchtime you’re ready to eat anything. Why? There’s simply not enough protein. Protein takes longer to digest and helps prevent you from feeling hungry too soon.
The Solution: Aim for at least 10 grams of protein and ideally more. Even if you add one cup of milk to your cereal, that’s only 8 grams of protein. You’ll get a few from the cereal, but not enough for real satisfaction. If you want a high-fiber cereal, try stirring it into a non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt, which has roughly 15 to 17 grams of protein. Consider having eggs for breakfast—our clients who eat eggs with breakfast find this to be the most satiating breakfast choice. Check out these great options—some are larger portions of easy on-the-go snacks, so choose the number of servings we suggest. If you already eat a hearty breakfast feel free to enlarge any of these portion sizes even more to accommodate your needs:
Overnight Berry Parfait (1 serving, 207 calories, 16 g protein, 6 g fiber)
Tomato, Spinach, Egg ‘n Feta Never Tasted Better Wrap (2 servings, 242 Calories, 36 grams protein, 6 g fiber 18 grams protein
Egg and Mozzarella Breakfast Pizza (1 serving, ½ cup raspberries: 220 Calories, 18 g protein, 8 g fiber)
Nutty Banana Chia Yogurt (1-1/2 servings, 284 Calories, 17 g protein, 5 g fiber)
Sunny Side Eggs On a Portobello Bagel (2 servings with a slice of whole-grain bread, 264 Calories, 18 g protein, 6 g fiber)
Blueberry Crunch High Protein Snack (2 servings, 324 Calories, 35 g protein, 6 g fiber)
4. Mistake: You don’t get enough fiber, like those found in fruits, veggies, whole grains and beans.
If you choose refined grains or simply eat only protein foods at breakfast (like eggs or a shake with protein powder, or you put your egg sandwich on a bagel, which is a refined grain devoid of fiber), your breakfast likely includes very little fiber. Here’s why this is a problem:
-Fiber typically comes with a quality carbohydrate that is needed to fuel your brain, preventing the need for a quick pick-me-up and helping to prevent cravings.
-Fiber helps to flush out the leftover debris and toxins lingering in your colon from the night before.
-Fiber helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Solution: Concentrate on eating fiber-filled foods. Aim for a minimum of 5 grams of fiber. Make egg sandwiches with whole-grain bread and add lettuce and tomato. If you typically have protein shakes, add berries or another fruit for fiber—and think about adding an extra source of fiber to any breakfast option, even the protein options in solution #3, which already include the minimum 5 grams of fiber. Here are a few-high fiber breakfasts:
Sunnyside Avocado Breakfast (1 serving, 217 Calories, 10 g fiber, 12 g protein)
Loaded Overnight Oatmeal (1 serving, 289 Calories, 11 g fiber, 10 g protein)
Pumpkin Chia Pudding (1 serving, 222 Calories, 17g fiber, 10 g protein)
The Nutrition Twins
Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse (“Lyssie”) Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins®, share a passion to teach people how to eat healthfully and exercise so they’ll have energy to live happy lives. The twins have been featured as nutrition experts on Good Morning America, Discovery Health, Fox News, NBC, Bravo, CBS, The Learning Channel, FitTV, Oxygen Network, and Fox & Friends. They co-wrote The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty, The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop A Size & Get Healthier with Simple Low Sodium Swaps. The twins are both ACE Certified Personal Trainers, and members of the American Dietetic Association and several Dietetic Practice Groups.