Skipping meals is never a good weight-loss strategy, especially when it come to breakfast. Eating in the morning wakes up your metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout your day. A solid first meal of the day also helps keep you feeling satiated so you eat fewer calories later. If you're working to drop pounds, keep in mind these four breakfast rules.

Eat breakfast within 1 hour of waking: We know that regular breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight, but the timing of your first meal is important, too. It's best to eat breakfast within an hour of waking. An early breakfast helps maintain your circadian rhythm and boosts your metabolism early.

Go for protein, not sugar: While pancakes dripping with syrup sounds scrumptious for a Sunday brunch, it's not something you should devour regularly for breakfast. High-protein choices, like eggs, Greek yogurt, whole grains, and nuts, are lower in calories and provide more energy than a sugary pick-me-up. Here are some breakfasts featuring whole grains, and if you love eggs, try POPSUGAR Food's recipe for a black bean omelet for a double shot of protein.

Eat at least 8 grams of fiber: The key to losing weight is to eat foods that make you feel full, so hunger pains don't drive you to eat high-calorie foods. For the first meal of the day, go for tons of fiber — at least eight grams. If you're in a rush, here's a fruity smoothie you can whip up that contains 11.7 grams. Or pour a bowl of one of these 10 cereals with eight or more grams of fiber. If you have a little more time, try these breakfast ideas that contain 10 grams of fiber and are also gluten-free.

Don't go overboard on calories:
Depending on your weight, your weight-loss goals, and what you eat for the rest of the day, it's important to keep your breakfast calorie count between 300 and 500. That means you probably don't want to splurge on a 688-calorie pecan sticky bun. Choose low-calorie options like veggie omelets, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and whole-wheat toast. A bowl of cereal is another great option; just don't make these calorie-busting cereal mistakes. If you're into smoothies, here are some ways to save calories before you sip.

POPSUGAR is a lifestyle website for women focusing on fitness and weight loss tips, healthy cooking, celebrity fitness, and workout routines for all levels. Read more at POPSUGAR.com.