As soon as you take a sip of your favorite food or drink, your body starts working to convert these substances into usable energy. This process is called metabolism.
Metabolism is almost always discussed in conjunction with weight loss or weight management, but it can seem overwhelming if we don’t know how to keep our metabolism at a healthy level.
One of the main ways to speed up metabolism is to eat right. To find out more, we talked to a few nutritionists about breakfast habits that could be slowing down your metabolism.
Read on for the worst breakfast habits for your metabolism. Then check out what science says about the best foods for belly fat.
“While many people think that skipping breakfast is good for your metabolism, nothing could be further from the truth,” she says. Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD Author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Medical Expert Board. “Think of a fire. In order for it to start burning, you have to light it. Then you add small amounts of fuel every couple of hours to keep it burning. It’s the same with your metabolism! Drink it in the morning with high-fiber carbs and protein, and then add small meals and snacks throughout and keep the fire going.”
According to a recently published review nutrientsskipping breakfast disrupts your body’s circadian rhythm, which is known to negatively affect your metabolism and overall health.
If you need some inspiration for a light breakfast, “consider a nut butter paired with eggs, whole-grain toast, milk, or Greek yogurt with nuts, seeds, and nut butter,” Goodson says.
“When you eat too much added sugar in the morning, your blood sugar spikes and then stops,” he says. Lisa Young, PhD, RDNthe author Finally full, finally slim and a member of our medical expert council.
Added sugar, especially in the form of sugary drinks, also slows down the metabolism. In a study published in the journal European Journal of Clinical NutritionParticipants who were considered overweight and drank a lot of sugary drinks had a lower metabolism.
“The best breakfasts for your metabolism include combinations of foods and creating the perfect pairing,” says Dr. A young. “For example, this meal includes protein, healthy carbs and good fat in an omelet and adding vegetables and tomatoes, or avocado for healthy fat on a piece of whole grain toast.”
Along with not starting the day with added sugar, Goodson cautions that starting the morning with any type of carbohydrate can cause blood sugar spikes.
Even though your body needs carbohydrates for energy, if you eat them on their own, your blood sugar will often spike and then drop later, causing you to lose energy. When your blood sugar drops, people often crave sugar, and that sets them up for a blood sugar roll for the rest of the day,” she says.
Instead of eating only carbs, Goodson recommends balancing your breakfast with protein. Goodson says, “Protein helps you feel fuller faster and longer after a meal because it takes the longest to digest compared to carbohydrates and fat, and the thermic effect of food doesn’t burn calories. It burns a little, and protein reactivates the calorie-burning system.”
“A lot of people think they can eat something light for breakfast and save calories for the day! That’s a metabolic no-no,” says Goodson. Instead, rev up your metabolism in the morning, then add a small amount of fuel (food) to keep it burning throughout the day.”
Instead of eating the smallest meal at the beginning of the day followed by larger meals, try to eat a filling breakfast for breakfast.
“Typically when people start the day with a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast, they tend to eat less at night and avoid late-night cravings,” Goodson says.
Another bad habit we have is forgetting to hydrate first thing in the morning.
“Your body needs water to function at the cellular level, so when you’re dehydrated, your metabolism slows down,” he says. Kali McMordy, MCN, RDN. “Whether it’s water, coffee, tea or juice, add a drink to your breakfast. Instead, drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to prevent dehydration.”