Think low-fat milk on cereal with a serving of fruit on the side is the best breakfast for weight loss? Think again…
The average Western breakfast is so un-balanced it will lead to weight gain, a mid-morning energy slump and cravings for sweet foods.
Below are the most common diet mistakes people make when choosing a breakfast for weight loss, along with suggestions to improve it.
The Biggest Breakfast Mistakes
Mistake 1 – Thinking cereal is healthy
Get the idea that cereal is healthy out of your head. Yes, I know the packet says low-fat and good for your heart, but that’s all marketing.
Cereal is not the best choice for a weight loss breakfast for 2 reasons.
High sugar and salt content. The majority of cereals are jam-packed with additional sugar and salt. The salt isn’t too bad, but sugar is essentially poisonous to the body. It jacks up your insulin levels and leaves you feeling tired and hungry a few hours later due to the blood sugar crash.
Calorie dense and nutrient lacking. One serving of Weetabix (which is seen as one of the best cereal choices for weight loss) contains 134 calories. Doesn’t sound much – but most people have 2 sticks plus milk. That is roughly 340 calories, 3.5g of sugar (that’s about a teaspoon, not including the additional sugar most people sprinkle on top). The number of calories itself is not a worry, but those calories come almost entirely from starchy carbohydrates, and they contain no real vitamins and minerals. Yes, you do need some carbohydrate in your diet for energy, but there are far more nutritious choices that will help you reach your weight loss goals faster.
What to do: Stop eating cereal. If you feel you need morning carbs, a good alternative is wholegrain oats or wholegrain bread. These foods don’t have crap added to them, and the wholegrain means the carbs will be slowly digested, preventing a mid-morning sugar crash. Be careful of instant oats though – they are often worse than cereals.
Mistake 2 – Eating low-fat products
Low fat products are all the rage at the moment. But what if I told you that low-fat products may be more unhealthy than their full-fat cousins, and could be making you fatter?
Fat tastes good. One gram of fat provides more energy that one gram of protein or carbs, hence why we have evolved to like it so much. When manufacturers reduce the fat content of a food, they discover it doesn’t taste as good. It wouldn’t sell. So they add ingredients to improve the flavour, one of which is sugar. As mentioned earlier, sugar is really not good to be eating if you want to lose weight.
What to do: Rather than choosing the low-fat product, go for the full-fat version. Swap low-fat yogurt for full-fat greek yogurt and reduced fat butter for full-fat butter. Not only will you feel fuller for longer, but you will also give your body a break from all that sugar.
Mistake 3 – Not eating any protein
Most people’s breakfast is heavily skewed towards carbs. They neglect to include any protein. Protein helps preserve muscle mass and is essential for repairing muscle tissue. As you age, failure to eat adequate protein will lead to muscle loss which lowers metabolism and causes loss of strength.
What to do: Ensure that your breakfast includes a lean source of protein, approximately the size of your palm. A fantastic choice is eggs, which you can scramble, fry, poach, boil or turn into an omelette. For men, I recommend consuming 4-6 eggs and women 2-3 eggs per breakfast.
Mistake 4 – Not eating any healthy fats
You’ve been taught fats are bad, especially when trying to lose weight. Rubbish. Your body needs healthy fats to survive. Fats keep you fuller for longer, make you feel good, and taste delicious. Just make sure your fats are from healthy sources. Around 30%-50% of your breakfast calories should come from fat.
What to do: Add a serving of fat to every breakfast. Include at least one of the following sources: a small handful of mixed nuts, a tablespoon of olive oil / coconut oil (avoid vegetable oil), 1/4 – 1/2 an avocado, a teaspoon of flax oil / seed, 1 tablespoon of nut butter (e.g. almond. If using peanut butter, ensure it is from a health food store, not the processed stuff).
Mistake 5 – Not eating any vegetables
Vegetables at breakfast!? That’s right. Your body thrives on the vitamins and nutrients they provide, so get 1-2 servings in you. This really isn’t too difficult. Great choices for breakfast are tomatoes (grilled, fried, raw), spinach (sauted, steamed, raw) and mushrooms (grilled, fried, raw).
If you are really pushed for time then you can always supplement your breakfast with a product such as Greens+ or other make of Greens superfood.
What to do: Ensure your breakfast contains 1-2 servings of vegetables. For example, instead of just a plain omlette, make a tomato and spinach one.
Mistake 6 – Eating too much fruit
Another common breakfast mistake is to consume WAY too much fruit. A massive fruit salad on it’s own is not a healthy or balance breakfast. Fruit is incredible calorie dense and often provides the body with quick release energy. If you haven’t done any intense activity or training then your body does not need all this energy and will store it as fat.
What to do: Limit your fruit intake to 1 piece at most. If you are trying to lose weight, then choose opt for berries over other fruits (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries) or eliminate fruit from breakfast entirely.
Mistake 7 – Drinking calories
At breakfast, it’s all too easy to load up on hidden calores in beverages. Coffee and tea with milk, fruit juice, energy drinks – all of these will up your calorie count for the day making it harder to achieve a calorie deficit. Fruit juice and energy drinks are the worst culprits, laden with sugar and extremely calorie dense.
What to do: Avoid drinking ANY calories at breakfast. Stick to water and/or green tea without milk or sugar.
The Best Breakfast for Weight Loss
So what is the perfect breakfast for weight loss?
My choice would be:
- A 4-6 egg cheese, tomato and spinach omlette (made with 1 tablespoon of full-fat butter in the pan)
- A handful of walnuts
- A leafy salad drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- A tablespoon of fish oil
- A small serving of blueberries
This breakfast is high in protein and healthy fats which will keep you satisfied and stop hunger for sereral hours. It also contains adequate carbs in the form of the vegetables and blueberries, a choice that won’t cause a blood sugar crash mid-morning.
The worst breakfast for weight loss
One of the worst breakfasts you could eat would be:
- A large bowl of cereal with reduced fat milk
- A banana and apple
- A tall glass or orange juice
- A cup of tea with milk and 2 sugars
- A bagel with low-fat cream cheese
Get your breakfast right using the rules above and you will have more energy throughout the day, won’t experience hunger pangs and will speed up your weight loss.