As soon as you take a bite of your favorite food or a sip of your favorite beverage, your body goes to work converting these substances into usable energy. This process is called metabolism.
Metabolism is almost always talked about in conjunction with weight loss or weight management, but it can start to feel overwhelming if we don’t know how to keep our metabolism at a healthy level.
One of the main ways you can increase your metabolism is by maintaining a healthy diet. To learn even more about this, we spoke to a couple of dietitians for their thoughts on common breakfast habits that could be slowing down your metabolism.
Read on for the worst breakfast habits for metabolism. Then take a look at what the science says about the best foods for belly fat.
“While many people think that skipping breakfast is better for your metabolism, nothing could be further from the truth,” he says. Amy Goodson, MS, DR, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and a member of our Council of Medical Experts. “Think of a fire. To get it burning, you have to light it. Then you add small amounts of wood every couple of hours to keep it burning. Same goes for your metabolism! morning with a high-fiber, high-protein carb, then add small meals and snacks throughout the day to keep the fire burning.”
According to a recent review published in nutrientsSkipping breakfast has been found to disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm, which is known to have a negative impact on metabolism and overall health.
If you need some inspiration for an easy breakfast, “consider eggs, whole-grain toast, and milk or oatmeal with nuts, seeds, and nut butter along with Greek yogurt to start your day,” says Goodson.
“When you eat too much added sugar first thing in the morning, your blood sugar spikes and then crashes,” he says. Lisa Young, PhD, RDNauthor of Finally full, finally slim and a member of our board of medical experts.
Added sugar, especially in the form of sugary drinks, has also been shown to slow down metabolism. In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutritionit was found that participants who considered themselves overweight and consumed large amounts of sugary drinks saw a drop in their metabolism.
“The healthiest breakfasts for your metabolism include a combination of nutrients and create the perfect match,” says Dr. Young. “For example, including protein, healthy carbs, and good fats like this meal in a tortilla and adding vegetables and tomato, or including avocado as a healthy fat on a slice of whole grain toast.”
Along the same lines of not starting the day with added sugars, Goodson warns that starting the morning with just carbohydrates of any kind can cause a spike in blood sugar.
While your body needs carbohydrates for energy, if you eat them alone they can often spike your blood sugar and cause it to drop later, setting you up for an energy crash. When blood sugar drops, people often have sugar cravings and it puts them on a blood sugar roller coaster for the rest of the day,” she says.
Instead of eating just carbohydrates, Goodson suggests balancing breakfast with protein. “Protein helps you fill up faster and stay full longer after a meal because, compared to carbohydrates and fats, it takes longer to break down,” Goodson says, “and while the thermic effect of food doesn’t burn a lot of calories, you burn a little bit, and protein speeds up the calorie-burning system. So adding protein can help speed up that metabolic process.”
“A lot of people think they should eat something light for breakfast and save their calories for the rest of the day! That’s forbidden metabolism,” says Goodson. “Instead, the goal is to speed up your metabolism in the morning by ‘lighting the fire’ and then continually adding small amounts of wood (aka food) to keep it burning throughout the day.”
Instead of eating your smallest meal at the beginning of the day and eating larger meals later, try eating a full, satisfying meal for breakfast that will set you up for success the rest of the day.
“And typically, when people start their day with a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast, they tend to eat less at night and stave off some of those late-night cravings,” says Goodson.
Another unhealthy habit that many of us have is forgetting to hydrate first thing in the morning.
“Your body needs water to function on a cellular level, so when you’re dehydrated, your metabolism slows down,” he says. Kaleigh McMordieMCN, RDN. “Be sure to include a beverage, whether it’s water, coffee, tea, or juice, with your breakfast. Better yet, drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to avoid dehydration.