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The Worst Breakfast Habits for Your Waistline, Say Dietitians

Feeling bloated after breakfast? Are you still hungry? These are two of the most common feelings people experience if they are following these worst breakfast habits. The main culprit? The food itself. While many breakfast items out there are quick-and-easy to grab, they aren’t always the most nutritious options for your body. This can cause your body to still feel hungry after consuming your breakfast, and worse, make you feel bloated on top of that.

If you’re looking to slim down your waistline—either to debloat your stomach or to shave off a few pounds—these are the worst breakfast habits to follow that you should avoid, according to numerous dietitians. Plus a few solutions on how to create healthier eating habits, as well as the types of foods you should reach for in the morning. Here’s what they advise, and if you’re looking for even more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

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Grabbing a quick muffin or granola bar in the morning may sound convenient, but unfortunately, a lot of these popular breakfast foods aren’t doing your body any favors—especially for your waistline.

“It is a common and unfortunate habit to rely on refined carbohydrates for breakfast,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD from Balance One Supplements. “Foods made from refined carbohydrates use grains that have been stripped of their beneficial vitamins and minerals like iron and B vitamins. This makes them calorically dense and offers only empty calories. Because of their processed nature, they are utilized quickly by the body as a form of energy and lead to a glucose spike and rapid insulin release post-meal.”

“An example is a cereal with milk which gets digested in about 30 minutes after that the body is still hungry and is making noises for more food,” says Jamie Feit, RD and expert at Testing.com. “This cycle negatively affects the waistline.”

So what’s the solution? Feit suggests having other easy-to-grab foods on hand that include protein, healthy fats, and fiber in order to keep you fuller for longer—and providing your body with that opposite result of eating refined carbohydrates, which make you feel hungry after consuming.

“Rather than eating something like a piece of white bread with jam, a better choice may be whole-grain bread and some nut butter,” says Jinan Banna, PhD, RD. “Fruit spread can be added too if you like a little sweetness at breakfast, but just be sure to get some fiber, protein, and fat out of your breakfast.”

That shouldn’t mean you need to avoid carbs! Here are 15 Carbs Myths That Are Totally Bogus.

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“Having a breakfast high in sugar without other food groups can also affect your waistline because eating a sugar breakfast will lead to a spike and crash in blood sugar which can lead to increased hunger and overeating later in the day leading to an increased waistline,” says Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN at A Taste of Health and expert at Testing.com. “Overall, having a good, balanced breakfast is thought to be important for your health when starting each day.”

Displeased young woman doesn't want to eat her breakfast
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On the other hand, skipping breakfast altogether can have some adverse side effects. Yes, contrary to popular belief, you should actually eat breakfast in order to slim down.

“Skipping breakfast, while the research varies, has been thought to negatively affect your waistline, as it does not allow your body’s metabolism to kick start at the beginning of the day and decreases your body’s energy from the get-go, which tends to result in more sedentary behavior throughout the day,” says Hotz.

“Skipping breakfast is one of the worst things you can do, as it often sets you up to be hungrier later,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. “While many people think they are saving on calories, the truth is, many end up eating more calories later in the day. Eating a solid breakfast of high-fiber carbohydrates and protein is essential for a healthy waistline! Try eggs, fruit and whole-grain toast, oatmeal with peanut butter, or a smoothie with yogurt, fruit, milk, and nut butter to start your day off right!”

Here are the Side Effects of Giving up Breakfast, According to Science.

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“Only grabbing a carbohydrate at breakfast can leave your blood sugar plummeting a few hours later,” says Goodson. “While foods like bananas and bagels are good for you, if you eat them by themselves at breakfast, you are likely to overeat at lunch because you feel so hungry. Adding protein like eggs, yogurt, nut butter, etc. can help stabilize your blood sugar in the morning and help you stay full longer.”

Related: 7 Healthy Breakfast Habits for a Flat Belly

man rushing through quick breakfast

“Swallowing down your food speedily, whether you are eating breakfast or a meal, does not give your brain time to hold your stomach,” says Shannon Henry, RD for EZCare Clinic. “Your brain does not show that you are full until 15 to 20 minutes after you start eating. If you eat your food within 10 minutes or less, you may end up eating more than you need. In a study of 3,200 men and women, Japanese researchers found that eating very fast was strongly related to obesity.”

All in all, for a slimmer waistline, it’s best to look for a breakfast high in protein and fiber to keep you feeling full—and if you can—giving yourself a moment to actually enjoy the food set before you.

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