Breakfast kick starts your metabolism for the day, so you don't want to mess that up. Here are the top four breakfast mistakes I see, plus how to fix each one.
The mistake: you skip it to save calories
Forgoing breakfast mayÂ seem like a calorie-saver,Â but it can actually be a fatÂ trap. Researchers at ImperialÂ College London found thatÂ when people went without anÂ a.m. meal, their brain rewardÂ centers lit up when they wereÂ shown images of high-calorieÂ foods. That means turningÂ down treats becomes harder,Â and youâre likely to makeÂ up for the missed caloriesÂ (and then some) with junkierÂ choices later in the day, whenÂ itâs tougher to burn them off.
CommitÂ to eating something everyÂ morning. If time is an issue,Â stash a healthy energy barÂ containing fruit in your bag.
The mistake: you turn to high-carb foods for energy
Grabbing a blueberry muffinÂ with your coffee may notÂ seem so bad, but a typicalÂ bakery muffin packs moreÂ added sugar than youÂ should have for the entireÂ dayâa staggering 44 grams.Â According to the AmericanÂ Heart Association, women should top out at aboutÂ 24 grams of added sugar dailyÂ (thatâs 6 teaspoonsâ worth).
You donâtÂ have to completely avoid sugarÂ if you need a jolt to get going.Â Chop up one tasting square ofÂ dark chocolate and mix it intoÂ your oatmeal. (I use this trickÂ in my overnight oats recipe,Â at right.) Also, make fruit yourÂ friend: Blend up a smoothieÂ or fold fruit into yogurt orÂ oatmeal. You can also topÂ toast with mashed avocado orÂ almond butter, then slices ofÂ fresh figs or pears.
RELATED:Â The Best Fat-Burning Breakfasts
The mistake: you're eating healthy but missing produce
Only 8 percent of AmericansÂ eat the recommended amountÂ of fruit each day (2 cups, forÂ a moderately active woman)Â and just 6 percent hit theÂ mark for veggies (3 cups),Â according to a report fromÂ Produce for Better HealthÂ Foundation. So even if youÂ have a nutritious egg-on whole-wheat sandwich in theÂ morning, not fitting in someÂ produce may keep you fromÂ reaching the daily goal.
Get at leastÂ one serving at breakfastÂ by grabbing a piece of fruitÂ before you head out theÂ door. For more, addÂ vegetables to an omelet or putÂ greens in a smoothie.
RELATED:Â 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make
The mistake: your breakfast is too skimpy
Being pressed for time is oneÂ of the main reasons womenÂ donât eat enough in theÂ morning. But the expressionÂ âEat breakfast like a king,Â lunch like a prince and dinnerÂ like a pauperâ holds up.Â Researchers in Israel foundÂ that overweight womenÂ who ate more calories atÂ breakfast and fewer at dinnerÂ lost more weight and hadÂ greater waistline reductionsÂ than those who flipped theÂ numbers, even when totalÂ daily calories were the same.
Aim forÂ a combo of lean protein,Â healthy fat and good carbs inÂ every breakfast. Instead ofÂ just yogurt, add in nuts andÂ fruit. Bottom line: If you workÂ normal hours, your dinnerÂ should never pack twice asÂ many calories as breakfast.
RELATED:Â The 20 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast
Cynthia SassÂ is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with masterâs degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen onÂ national TV, sheâs Healthâs contributing nutrition editor, and privately counselsÂ clientsÂ in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously consulted for three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Cynthia is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her brand new book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her onÂ Facebook,Â TwitterÂ andÂ Pinterest.