Eat This For Breakfast. Lose Weight
People who eat dry cereal, cooked cereal, or even quick breads, such as waffles, toast, or pastry, for breakfast have significantly lower body mass index measurements than people who either skip breakfast entirely or chow down on meat and eggs, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.
You read that right. Eating a Danish pastry is better for your waistline than skipping breakfast altogether.
"Skipping breakfast has already been established as a risk factor for being overweight, but our study is the first to really look at how different breakfast types may affect weight while controlling for lifestyle and demographic variables," Coralie Brown, co-author of the research, said in a news release announcing the study.
More of us are skipping breakfast than ever before. In the mid-1960s, just 14 percent dashed out of the house without eating. By the '90s, fully 25 percent did so. It may not be a coincidence then that the number of obese Americans has also increased from 23 percent in 1994 to 31 percent in 2000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"More and more Americans are skipping breakfast as the pace of our lives becomes increasingly hectic," said Gladys Block, UC Berkeley professor of nutritional epidemiology and principal investigator of the study. "What our study shows is that if the goal is to lose or maintain weight, skipping breakfast is not a good way to go about it. Skipping breakfast may be just as bad as eating a chunk of cheese first thing in the morning."
The study analyzed health and lifestyle information of 16,452 adults who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES III, from 1988 to 1994. The data included body mass index (BMI) measurements, age, gender, race, and other demographic information. The researchers also controlled for such factors as physical activity and smoking, and placed participants in one of 10 breakfast categories based upon the foods they reported eating the prior day.
Three surprising results:
- People who ate quick breads for breakfast, which include pastries, cookies, and waffles, were among those with lower BMIs compared to other groups.
- Those who ate meat and eggs for breakfast had higher average BMIs and ate significantly more calories throughout the day than people who had something else for breakfast.
- People who skipped breakfast consumed the least amount of calories per day, but had higher BMIs. Why? One explanation is that they're eating the bulk of their calories later in the day, which contributes the most to weight gain.
"Overall, our findings support the theory that a low-fat, high-fiber breakfast is associated with less weight," said Brown. "It could also point to the significance of organized meals. Foods that are eaten 'on-the-run' are typically high in fat and can lead to weight gain."
The study findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.