Power Up Your Mornings
Looking to lose a few pounds? Dish up a bigger breakfast. Recent research shows that a morning meal that's 400 to 500 calories helps you feel full and may make it easier to stick to your diet. The secret ingredient: approximately 200 calories of lean protein, like eggs or low-fat Canadian bacon. "In our study, people who ate extra protein in the a.m. felt more satisfied," says study author Heather Leidy, PhD, an assistant professor of dietetics and nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. "Protein keeps you fuller longer than carbs, so eating it for breakfast helps you cut calories all day." Taking time for breakfast is one of the smartest things you can do for your health. Women who eat it every day are not only thinner, but they also have lower cholesterol levels and less risk for type 2 diabetes than those who skip it, research shows. That's because breakfast foods tend to be high in health-boosting nutrients like fiber, experts say. Not the morning-meal type? "A lot of people don't have time for it, but they pay the price by overeating later," says FITNESS advisory board member Leslie Bonci, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "It's crucial to have something healthy."
Rise and Dine
Having a big breakfast doesn't mean you have to nibble a tiny salad for dinner. If you're trying to lose weight, stick to a 1,600-calories-a-day plan, aiming for 400 to 500 calories at each meal with enough reserved for a snack or two. Can't stomach eggs? Bored silly by cereal? No worries. Try these delicious solutions from Bonci for all your breakfast troubles.
Excuse #1: "I don't have time to cook."
Assemble this quick and easy breakfast wrap before bed. In the morning, stick it in the microwave for one minute on high.
2 ounces Canadian bacon
2 ounces cheese
4 ounces fruit juice
Total Calories: 460
Excuse #2: "I hate breakfast."
Don't think it has to be eggs or nothing. A turkey sandwich or last night's leftovers make a great morning meal.
1 slice whole wheat veggie pizza
1 16-ounce skim-milk latte
Total Calories: 400
Excuse #3: "I eat at my desk."
Try a reduced-fat fast-food sandwich from Starbucks.
1 turkey bacon, egg, and white cheddar breakfast sandwich
1 short (8-ounce) Caffe Latte with skim milk
Total Calories: 420
Excuse #4: "I don't want to eat before I work out."
Whip up this filling smoothie or grab a similar one at a juice joint. Save the nuts for a post-workout snack that has extra protein and some healthy fat.
6 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 scoop whey protein powder
1/2 cup berries
1 ounce nuts
Total Calories: 439
Excuse #5: "Breakfast foods are bland."
Spice up your taste buds with this zesty trail mix.
3/4 cup spicy soy nuts
1/4 cup whole-grain cereal, such as Wheat Chex
1/4 cup golden raisins
Tea with honey
Total Calories: 410
Wake Up Your Morning Appetite
Nearly one in five women skips breakfast, according to surveys. Try these tips from Susan Bowerman, RD, a nutritionist at California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, to break your no-nosh habit.
- Divide and conquer. Start with something small, like yogurt, and eat a handful of almonds an hour or two later.
- Make a fast break. When you're in a rush, grab a piece of string cheese for a dose of protein and some fruit for fiber and vitamins.
- Treat yourself. Trade breakfast-prep duties with your partner to make it less of a chore.
- Put it off. "If you just can't eat first thing, have an energy bar midmorning for fuel," Bowerman says. "Otherwise, you may overeat at lunch."