Laura LaValle re TIME’s 3 Breakfast Rules to Follow to Lose Weight
This TIME article on 3 rules for breakfast for weight loss was recently brought to my attention. Readers have to watch out for these types of articles, because in most cases they are written by journalists, not health practitioners who are better able to report health information accurately, and may have some experience with whether something in a study actually ends up playing out as expected. Here’s my professional perspective on the 3 rules, whether they are true or false and why.
1st Rule: “Always eat breakfast” because it gets your metabolism revved up for the day. False. Conventional wisdom was that eating breakfast jumped started metabolism, and this might be the reason people who report being successful with weight loss are typically breakfast eaters. But further studies have not borne out that breakfast eating alone helps weight loss. There is something called the thermic effect of food, which is the amount of calories it takes to digest food. So after every meal, you get a somewhat increased rate of calorie burn. But getting the normal increase in calorie burn after meals, doesn’t mean that that effect from breakfast lasts all day or that you even get much benefit for weight loss from the breakfast itself. Depending on what and how much you eat for breakfast, you can actually counteract any benefit you get from it.
There is a way to not eat breakfast as part of something called intermittent fasting, where when done correctly, you can actually lose weight, but with that you eat a light lunch and dinner and don’t eat after 7 pm either. It takes a lot of discipline and know-how. So should you eat breakfast or not? For most people not eating breakfast is a death sentence. It’s because they often then eat a light lunch and by dinnertime they are ravenous and overeat, and continue to snack throughout the evening. This has horrible effects on our health and weight.
Therefore, the magic isn’t in eating or not eating breakfast– it is in doing either one the right way. In general, it is better to make sure you eat breakfast, but the right kind of foods, which leads us to the 2nd rule and 3rd rule.
2nd Rule: “Load up on Protein at Breakfast.” True. This rule hits the nail on the head. When you eat breakfast, the number one thing to do is to make sure you eat protein with it. Studies show that eating about 30 g of protein as part of your breakfast, helps control blood sugar fluctuations and appetite, and helps you manage your weight.
What the studies have learned is that typical American breakfasts like granola bars, toast, bagel or cereal, with no high protein foods with it, end up causing a spike in your blood sugar in the morning. When it drops an hour or 2 later, you need to eat again. Eating protein with breakfast helps stabilize the blood sugar in the morning preventing these highs and lows on blood glucose that make you need to eat all day. In addition, protein itself helps blunt appetite.
One study found having a high protein breakfast led to eating an average of 500 fewer calories over the course of the day, which can translate to losing as much as a pound a week! This is why our Metabolic Code breakfasts are high in protein. Our protein shakes include some fruit, BUT it is a measured amount and is balanced by at least 21 grams of protein from a protein powder. Based on this study, I have started recommending, that if the protein shake alone does not keep you full long enough, try having some turkey sausage or bacon or other protein with it.
3rd Rule: “Eat a Banana” with breakfast, because bananas contain resistant starch which helps fat burning and helps you feel full. The idea of this recommendation was to get something called resistant starch. Readers who are familiar with our Metabolic Code Diet know we are very big on making sure to take in resistant starch, which can have benefits for appetite and weight management. What this article failed to mention is that bananas only contain resistant starch if they are eaten when still slightly green. It also recommended eating oatmeal, which is a source of resistant starch.
Here’s a little clarification of the benefits of resistant starch. Yes, it helps the production of something called Peptide Y (PY), which helps shut off hunger. Resistant starches are fuel for beneficial gut bacteria and anything that helps gut health, helps weight management by helping the production of important hormones that come from the intestines, PY being one of the them. The other is something called GLP-1. This hormone helps processing of carbs, thereby keeping insulin down, which helps fat burning.
But the issue is taking in some sources of resistant starch without overdoing carbs. Studies on resistant starches being taken on their own or as part of foods, have had very mixed results when it comes to weight loss, with most showing little to no weight loss in a few weeks. The problem here is the short term of the studies. I believe that if they were able to measure their benefits over a couple of years, they would see clear advantages. What I see is that working on improving gut health helps weight loss over time by helping insulin sensitivity and dialing down hunger. But it has to be accompanied by a healthy diet and other lifestyle management as needed, ie sleep and stress management.
What should you do? Eat bananas while slightly green, and incorporate other resistant starch containing foods, but control the quantity you eat. Using some bananas in protein shakes as shown in our Metabolic Code meal plans is great. If you make sure they are slightly green they will contain resistant starch. If you end up having to use some as they get ripe that is still OK, they just won’t help out on the gut health front. That is why we recommend eating some beans and legumes in the Metabolic Code Diet meal plans. Beans and legumes are a great source of resistant starch with a lower glycemic index and load than most other foods that contain starch. The best carbs are those that have higher fiber intake and therefore that have lower glycemic index. Rolled oats have a glycemic index of 55; beans average out at about 30, much lower.
In conclusion, no one or two rules are enough on their own. A complete well designed scientific approach to food along with customized supplements based on metabolic testing is key. Contact REVOLISM today for more information!
Laura LaValle, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian, and has received her Level 2 certificate of training in Adult Weight Management through the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the highest possible certification for a dietitian. She oversees diet-related content for the Metabolic Code health, nutrition and wellness library. She is a senior editor and nutrition writer with more than 20 years of experience in clinical and hospital settings as well as experience in integrative nutrition in private practice.