Cultures and individuals vary enormously in their eating patterns first thing in the morning. Foreign travel introduces us to foods first thing that we wouldn’t normally associate with breakfast. History books show that how we eat breakfast now is not how it has always been.
Many people eat very little for breakfast, or skip it altogether. Some very slim people do this as part of their routine, so whether or not to eat breakfast is not a cut and dried solution to weight loss. But as a deliberate weight loss strategy skipping breakfast tends to backfire. Most people I’ve worked with who have skipped breakfast cite too little time to eat as the main reason, although they also feel that they are “saving” calories for later this way.
Should I skip breakfast?
Skipping breakfast seems to backfire as a weight loss strategy. If you skip breakfast because of time limitations, the reasons may be different but the result tends to be the same of overeating later in the day. When you skip breakfast, two things happen. First, your physiological pressure to eat gets stronger during the morning and you are likely to experience more intense hunger or desire to eat. Second, you make a mental note that you have saved calories by missing or skimping on breakfast so they are available to eat later and it is easy to delude yourself into thinking it’s OK to eat more later.
Maintaining weight loss is associated with regular eating routine
If you want to lose weight permanently, the key thing is to make your eating patterns as easy to maintain as possible. Research shows that one of the features of people who lose weight and then maintain that weight loss is that they have a regular eating routine and they eat breakfast. So if you have lost weight in the past and have found that you’ve regained it, introducing a delicious and satisfying breakfast (note: we’re not talking about a large breakfast) may be a helpful step in making the weight loss permanent this time.
What size breakfast should I eat?
You may know the old saying:
“Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper”
Many of us today do just the opposite. We eat very little first thing, a modest lunch and then eat a large meal in the evening and perhaps continue eating after that. The net effect is that the body stores more fat than if the same foods were eaten in reverse order. For people following the pattern of eating most of their daily intake in the evening, weight loss will require cutting down the size of this meal. It is often helped by also attending to breakfast. As you cut down the size of the evening meal, if your breakfast (or lunch) is too small, keeping to the smaller evening meal is made harder. Instead you may be too hungry when you start your evening meal and therefore be likely to overshoot and eat more than you need.
You may not need to go as far as the old saying. The focus with Appetite Retraining is on tuning in to your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals and not getting too hungry or too full. You can experiment for yourself what size meals you need to be -3 on the Appetite Pendulum (definitely hungry) at the start and +3 (just full) at the end of each meal.
The meal size that achieves this depends on how active you are, how old you are and what your individual metabolism is like. Note that you may be shocked at how little food it takes to get you to +3.
What should I eat for breakfast?
The best food to eat for breakfast is food you really love. There is lots of good advice available on which foods are best for us from dieticians and nutritionists. Within that advice, choosing what you really like eating rather than what you think will have the fewest calories will enable you to have a breakfast you love. This will both set you up for the morning nutritionally and energetically, but will also introduce pleasure into the first part of your day, which will help psychologically. You will look forward to breakfast and it will enhance your health, wellbeing and weight loss.
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