To lose weight and keep it off, breakfast is essential. But what happens if you skip breakfast, or if you eat breakfast when you’re not hungry? Weight loss scientist Dr Amanda Sainsbury-Salis shows you how to avoid common breakfast traps that can sabotage your weight.
Additionally, in studies of ‘Big-time Losers’ – people who have lost over 13.6 kilos and kept it off for over a year – 96 percent of them eat breakfast.3
What if I’m not hungry for breakfast?
While you will have certainly heard how important it is to eat breakfast, many people have never heard another important concept:
To lose weight and keep it off, you need to make a habit of eating only when you feel physically hungry.
Scientific studies show that repeatedly eating when you’re not physically hungry puts you at risk of weight gain.4
However, when it comes to breakfast and you don’t feel hungry, the best thing to do is to eat something small, otherwise you’re likely to overeat later in the day.
How to boost your appetite for breakfast
When you wake up in the morning, take a moment to rate how hungry you feel.
If you usually wake up to a hearty appetite, that’s great! If not, try some of the following ideas.
- Eat a little less in the afternoons and evenings until you start consistently waking up with a hearty appetite for breakfast. The idea is not to leave yourself feeling hungry and deprived late in the day, but rather to eat just enough to satisfy your physical needs and then simply get on with living your life to the full.
- Try eating your dinner earlier in the evening. If you’re like the person in Frank Sinatra’s song who gets ‘too hungry for dinner at eight’, try eating dinner late in the afternoon or early in the evening, when your lunch or afternoon snack start becoming a distant memory.
- Delay breakfast. There’s no rule that says you have to eat breakfast immediately upon rising. If you’re not hungry first thing, you may find that once you’ve gone for a walk, showered, dressed and maybe even commuted, you’ll be craving that morning feed.
No time for breakfast? Try these quick, easy and nutritious ideas
- Natural or toasted muesli topped with sliced banana or tinned fruit and milk
- Wholemeal mountain bread with hummus dip and a pear. Try different varieties of hummus until you find one that tickles your taste buds.
- A milky coffee and raisin toast from a café. Provided you’re eating adequate quantities of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, there’s no reason why regular café breakfasts can’t be part of a healthy weight management plan.
Take home message
Train your body to wake up to a hearty appetite and adopt (or maintain) a daily breakfast-eating habit, and you’ll find that losing weight and keeping it off can happen with much greater ease.
- 1 Lluch A, Hubert P, King NA, Blundell JE. Selective effects of acute exercise and breakfast interventions on mood and motivation to eat. Physiology and Behaviour 2000; 68: 515-520.
- 2 Schlundt DG, Hill JO, Sbrocco T, Pope-Cordle J, Sharp T. The role of breakfast in the treatment of obesity a randomized clinical trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1992; 55: 645-651.
- 3 Wyatt HR, Grunwald GK, Mosca CL, Klem ML, Wing RR, Hill JO. Long-term weight loss and breakfst in subjects in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity Research 2002; 10: 78-82.
- 4 Marmonier C, Chapelot D, Fantino M, Louis-Sylvestre J. Snacks consumed in a nonhungry state have poor satiating efficiency: influence of snack composition on substrate utilization and hunger. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002; 76(3): 518–528.