The moment you eat or drink something you enjoy, your body immediately begins converting it into energy. Metabolism is the process of burning fuel for energy. It is almost always discussed along with weight loss or weight management, but maintaining a healthy metabolism can feel overwhelming.
Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the main ways to boost your metabolism. For further insight, we spoke with a couple of dietitians about common breakfast habits that could be slowing your metabolism.
As a member of the Medical Expert Board and author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook, Amy Goodson contends that skipping breakfast is not good for your metabolism. Similarly, you want to kick-start your metabolism in the morning with a high-fiber carbohydrate and protein, then add small meals and snacks throughout the day to keep the fire burning throughout the day."
A recent study published in Nutrients found that skipping breakfast adversely affects your metabolism and overall health by disrupting your circadian rhythm. Goodson recommends eggs, whole grain toast, milk, or oatmeal with nuts, seeds, and nut butter paired with Greek yogurt for a quick breakfast.
"Adding sugar to your breakfast causes your blood sugar to rise and then drop," says Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. Added sugar, especially in sugary drinks, has also been shown to slow metabolism. Those who were overweight and consumed large amounts of sugary beverages showed a decrease in metabolism, according to a study published in the European Journal for Clinical Nutrition.
For the best breakfast for your metabolism, you need to combine nutrients and create the perfect pair, says Dr. Young. This meal includes protein, healthy carbs, and good fat, such as an omelet with greens and tomatoes, or avocado on whole grain toast for healthy fat."In addition to avoiding added sugars, Goodson warns that carbohydrate-only breakfasts can still spike blood sugar levels.
If you eat carbohydrates by themselves, they can spike your blood sugar causing it to drop later, setting you up for an energy crash. Sugar is often craved when your blood sugar drops, which sets you on a roller coaster of blood sugar for the rest of the day," she adds.
Goodson recommends balancing your breakfast with protein instead of only carbs. "Protein enhances your hunger by making you feel full faster and longer after a meal," says Goodson, "and while the thermic effect of food doesn't burn a lot of calories, it does burn some, which is why it increases your metabolic rate."
It's a metabolism no-no to eat a light breakfast for breakfast and save your calories for lunch and dinner," says Goodson. Rather than 'starting the fire,' the idea is to add small amounts of wood (aka food) throughout the day to keep the fire burning."For breakfast, try eating a full, satisfying meal that will set you up for success the rest of your day, rather than eating your smallest meal at the start of the day and your largest meal later on.
"People tend to eat fewer calories at night when they start their day with a high-fiber, protein-rich breakfast," says Goodson. The habit of forgetting to drink water first thing in the morning is another unhealthy habit that many of us have. To function properly at a cellular level, your body needs water. When you're dehydrated, your metabolism becomes sluggish. Make sure you drink something with your breakfast every morning, whether it is a glass of water, coffee, tea, or juice.