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Lose More Weight with a Big Breakfast
I've said for years that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast appears to reduce your metabolism while actually delaying fat burning and increasing fat deposition. Having a higher-fiber breakfast of quickbreads or cereal not only helps you remain satisfied for longer, you'll eat your other meals more regularly throughout the day. 

Morning Exercise and Breakfast
Some of my more exercise-dedicated patients like to hit the gym or go for a run in the morning, before work, but quite a few of them don't eat beforehand. "I don't have time," they say. Many of them will have some kind of breakfast after they get to work: the more health-conscious might have some microwave oatmeal or a breakfast bar, while others throw themselves into their day and don't eat anything significant until lunch. 

Kids skipping breakfast
Skipping breakfast isn't good for adults and it's particularly important for kids: not only do kids who eat breakfast (as opposed to nothing) tend to have lower Body Mass Indices and healthier overall diets, they tend to avoid overweight or obesity later in life and have better cholesterol scores and waist to hip ratios (as well as healthier diets).


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Fiber for Breakfast Keeps You Satisfied

Recently researchers in Sweden compared the effects on appetite and satiety of eating rye porridge for breakfast or a similar number of calories of whole wheat bread (Physiol Behav 2012 Feb 1;105(3):877-84). Why rye porridge? When rye grains are processed into whole grain rye flakes for porridge the grains retain some of their original structure, leaving the resulting porridge very high in fiber. They chose porridge because it has a low energy density compared to the volume of the food.

Twenty-four healthy men and women between the ages of 20 and 46, who were also of normal to slightly overweight, participated in the study. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two standardized breakfasts: either whole grain rye porridge or the same number of calories in the form of whole wheat bread. For three weeks the participants ate their assigned breakfast meal each day, then returned to their regular diet for three to four weeks (this is what is known as a "washout period"). Then for an additional three weeks they switched to the other breakfast meal.

On three different days during each of the two testing periods, the participants were given a Palm handheld computer and asked to respond to three questions on the handheld every 30 minutes, beginning before breakfast and extending throughout the day until bedtime. The following morning when the subjects got up they again answered the three questions, which are as follows:

  1. How hungry do you feel right now?

  2. How satiated [full or not full] do you feel right now?

  3. How strong is your desire to eat right now?

These three questions were answered on a scale of 1-100. At the close of the study the researchers compared the answers to the three questions after eating the whole grain rye porridge with the answers given after eating the whole wheat bread. Although the number of calories each subject ate was the same regardless of whether they ate porridge or bread, the participants indicated that when they had porridge for breakfast they felt far less hungry and more satisfied for the four hours right after the meal than when they ate the bread.

What this means for you

The take home message for Dr. Gourmet readers is that a high fiber breakfast will keep you more satisfied throughout the morning, which may help you maintain your weight better by helping you avoid uncontrolled snacking. The whole grain rye porridge used in this study contained about three times as much fiber as the whole grain bread for the same number of calories.

First posted: November 23, 2011