Eat breakfast to lose weight, says long-term study

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These past couple of weeks I’ve had the opportunity to speak for the Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less class sponsored by the Brunswick County office of the N.C. Cooperative Extension. This is a series of classes held at the Dinah E. Gore Fitness and Aquatics Center at Brunswick Community College. The goal of these classes is just what the name suggests—to learn how you can eat smart, move more and weigh less.
The topic for this past week was Smart Start and focused on the importance of breakfast. Yes, your mom was right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Breakfast gets you going for the day. Research shows that people who eat breakfast feel better all day and are more alert and creative. It’s also been shown that school children who regularly eat breakfast do better on standardized tests. Unfortunately, it’s estimated about 25 percent of Americans don’t eat breakfast.
Eating breakfast is especially important for people who are trying to lose weight. This may seem opposite of what you might think. Not eating breakfast may seem like a good way to eat fewer calories—after all it’s one less meal, right? Wrong.
It’s been proven that people who eat breakfast eat fewer total calories and less fat each day. Breakfast eaters on an average are less likely to be overweight than people who skip breakfast. The logic behind this is that when you eat breakfast your body feels nourished and satisfied, making you less likely to overeat the rest of the day.
Scientifically, when you don’t eat breakfast, your metabolic rate slows down and your blood sugar drops. As a result, you become hungry and have less energy. So what do you do? — Look for food, any food. This is when most people impulsively overeat. It could be that doughnut setting in the break room at work, a candy bar from the machine or a quick trip through the drive-thru. Usually these foods contain more fat and calories than a planned breakfast.
There is a long-term weight loss study called the National Weight Control Registry. Researchers collect data on how people successfully lose weight and then keep it off. They have found that one of the habits these folks have in common is that they eat breakfast.
OK. I’ve convinced you it’s important. So what should you eat? It doesn’t have to be breakfast food.  It could be leftovers from last night. But look for something that contains some grain, some protein and a fruit.
Grain—gives you energy for a busy day. It can be a hot or cold cereal, toast, tortilla or a muffin. To make it even healthier look for something whole-grain to add fiber to your diet.
Protein—is often missing from breakfasts. Eating a protein with breakfast helps you stay full through lunch. This doesn’t have to be meat. It could be eggs, yogurt, cheese or cottage cheese. Look for lean, low-fat or fat-free foods in this category.
Fruit—this is a great time to get started on your two cups of fruit needed each day. Whole fruit is better than juice because it gives you fiber and helps you feel full longer.
Sarah Barnwell, Family and Consumer Science Agent with Brunswick County Extension, shared this idea for a breakfast wrap. This recipe meets the goal of one whole grain (tortilla), a protein (peanut butter) and a fruit (banana). It can be made the night before and kept in the refrigerator for a quick ready-to-eat breakfast. These wraps can be enjoyed warm or cold. To warm, place it wrapped in a paper towel in the microwave for 20 seconds.
Breakfast Wrap
Whole wheat tortilla
Peanut butter (crunchy or smooth—your choice)
For one serving: spread one tablespoon peanut butter on a tortilla. Thinly slice half of one peeled banana onto the peanut butter layer. Wrap tortilla fajita style. Each wrap contains about 260 calories, 9 grams of fat and 4 grams of fiber. One of these is a great way to start the day.
The Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less series is almost over for the spring, but we’re planning another class for this fall. In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about this weight management program go to www.ESMMWeighLess.com. This program is part of the Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina project http://www.myeatsmartmovemore.com. There are websites and Facebook pages for both these programs that can get you on the right track.
Sources: Smart Start part of Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less developed by N.C. Cooperative Extension and the NC Division of Public Health; and The National Weight Control Registry www.nwcr.ws.
Cheryle Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science staff member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, (910) 253-2610.