IF you're struggling to lose weight, it may be your breakfast choice that is holding you back.
Of the dozens of options, experts say there are some that will set you up for failure from the start of the day.
If you’re feeling hungry within a couple of hours of eating, bloated or fatigued, it may be time to switch up your first meal of the day.
Even if you can’t bear to part from your favourite breakfast, some small tweaks could make all the difference.
And if you have a tendency to skip breakfast, it's not the end of the world, experts say, as long as you don't wait till you're ravenous and then overeat.
The following blunders could be avoided:
1. Eating too much sugar
Croissants, cereals and baked goods may taste delicious, but will do nothing for your waistline.
That’s because they are relatively high in sugar.
Rob Hobson, a London-based nutritionist and head of Healthspan, said: “If you eat too much sugar you obviously increase your risk of putting on weight and you could end up with sugar highs and lows.
“If you have a sugar spike followed by a sugar low, you might look around for sugary foods to bring you back up again.”
He said there are a lot of hidden sugars in cereals that people are not aware of, but reading nutritional labels will spot the worst offenders.
Dietician Dr Carrie Ruxton added: “Many sugary, low fibre breakfast cereals just take the edge off your appetite, leaving you hunting for snacks a couple of hours later.”
2. Eating too many calories – especially 'empty' ones
Dr Mayur Ranchordas, an exercise physiologist and sport nutritionist at Sheffield Hallam, said it’s important to watch how calories can add up at breakfast.
He told The Sun: “If you had a full-fat latte or cappuccino with a muffin, you might think ‘I only had a coffee and muffin for breakfast’.
“But that’s loads of calories, and no nutritional value.
“That’s 700-800 calories at breakfast. If you then get a chicken and bacon sandwich at lunch, you could exceed your daily calorie intake before dinner.”
Dr Mayur said the same goes for if you had a healthier option, such as a slice of wholemeal toast, poached eggs, smoked salmon and avocado.
Although it has more nutritional value, the calories can add up quickly, so watch portion sizes.
3. Not getting enough protein or fats
The key to a healthy breakfast is making sure it has a little of everything – protein, fats and carbohydrates.
These are the three main food groups and each is needed in the diet.
Many breakfasts fail to include all three, which can lead to hunger or cravings within a couple of hours.
And most of the time, breakfast contains more carbs than you are likely to burn off before lunch time, said Dr Mayur.
Dr Mayur said: “Don’t just think about the calories, but the quality of the food.
“The general rule of thumb for athletes is – does it provide you with healthy fats, good protein, minerals and vitamins, and moderate carbs?
“If the answer is yes, 9/10 it's probably a healthy meal.
“But if you have a bowl of bran flakes with milk and orange juice, there is very little protein in that meal so chances are you will get hungry again.”
So what SHOULD you eat for breakfast?
Yoghurt with whole fruit and low fat granola
Dr Carrie said: “A new report from Petits Filous reveals that eating dairy foods is linked with better weight management so try fromage frais with a sprinkling of oats for a healthy high protein breakfast.
"Protein works by making us feel fuller for longer.”
Rob added: "I might go for something like yoghurt topped with fruit and a sugar free gronola – that has protein, good fibre and carbs.
"Fruit yoghurts have a lot of sugar in – up to the same amount of a chocolate bar – so go for natural or Greek yoghurt."
A breakfast smoothie
This is a good one for on the go, Rob said, suggesting fruit, milk, dark green veg and oats.
Rob said: “Fruit is not that high in calories. I don't like anything that deters people from fruit and veg.
“If you eat them whole, you get the benefit of the fibre rather than extracting the juice.”
Omelette and black coffee
Dr Mayur’s choice of breakfast would be an omelette with a black coffee, and a snack of nuts and a piece of fruit if you are hungry later.
“That’s around 450 calories by lunch time”, he said.
4. Having greasy fry-ups
Bacon, sausages, eggs and more are divine on a hangover.
But keep it as a treat, as Rob said: “A greasy fry up is full of saturated fat, loads of calories and makes you feel sluggish.
“Smaller amounts are okay. But there are lots of links with processed meat and bowel cancer.
“Bacon and sausages, for example, are also full of salt which is no good for blood pressure.”
If you must have something resembling a fry up, try something like poached eggs with grilled halloumi, Rob said.
5. Eating on-the-go
The modern person is likely to be eating their breakfast while rushing into work or sitting at their desk.
Rob said: “There is a chance you’ll overeat if you are not focusing on your food, and if you’re rushing around, you’re at risk of indigestion.”
He added: “I think it’s good to sit down to eat and be more mindful.
“If you don't have time in the morning, go to the break out room to have breakfast. We all have ten minutes or so to sit down.”
6. Waiting until you are starving
Should you eat in the morning or skip breakfast? Experts are split.
Dr Carrie said: “Starting the day with the wrong breakfast – or none at all – will do nothing for your weight loss goals.
“Breakfast sets you up for good habits and keeps morning snacking at bay.”
Dr Ruxton said if you can’t face anything in the morning, “you may be eating too late the night before”.
However, Rob Hobson pointed out that people’s eating patterns are all different and some may eat within a window of noon till 8pm.
He said: “You have an amount of energy to eat in the day – it doesn't matter when you eat it, as long as you split it up.”
But he said never to “wait until you are ravenous” because it could lead you to reaching for something unhealthy.
Meanwhile, Dr Mayur said he disagrees with the notion that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” because there isn’t enough science to back it up.
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He said: “Most people are quite overweight and have a high fasting blood glucose level. Skipping breakfast might be healthy for those people.
“If you eat your last meal at 7pm – and it's rice, carbs , pasta – then go to sleep at 11pm, then don’t eat till lunch time, you’ve fasted for 16 hours.
“That’s quite good for you, as you are controlling insulin and blood sugar levels.”
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