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9 Breakfast Mistakes Killing Your Weight Loss Goals

Payton Baker, RD, MS, LMNT

Published in Weight Loss

11 min read

January 28, 2022
a plate of eggs, bacon, pancakes and slices of grapefruit
a plate of eggs, bacon, pancakes and slices of grapefruit

It’s commonly called the ‘most important meal of the day.’ And while there may be some disagreements about the hierarchy of meals, it’s no secret how much we focus on this morning meal. All meals are equally important, but it is crucial to begin your day or break your fast with the proper nutrients and fuel… and you may not even realize when you’re not doing that. Many ‘traditional’ breakfast foods are packed with carbohydrates and sugar, leaving you prone to energy crashes and inhibiting weight loss goals. 

The choices you make when you’re picking breakfast foods can have a significant impact on your health as well as your weight loss goals. If you’re working towards a weight loss goal, it’s a good idea to focus on what you choose to put in your body at the start of your day. Making the right choices for your first meal can also set a mental precedent for the choices you make throughout the rest of your day. 

Read on to see what breakfast mistakes you may be making and how you can make healthier, more weight-loss friendly choices:

1) Eating Foods with Added Sugars

A stack of pancakes topped with banana slices with honey drizzled over next to a cup of tea in a white mug with gold stars

Baked goods are an easy go-to in the mornings, especially when you’re pressed for time. Packaged baked goods, in particular, may be convenient and popular breakfast foods. However, they’re packed with added sugar and empty calories that don’t properly nourish your body. Starting your day with just carbohydrates and added sugars may cause blood sugar spikes in some and lead to energy crashes and hunger pangs later in the morning. 

Tasty Tips

  • Try substituting a muffin or breakfast pastry with whole-grain toast and peanut butter or overnight oats with fresh fruits.
  • Add an egg to your croissant for some protein. Or, add an avocado to your toast (yes, the contentious food may have several health benefits!), so you’re not starting your day with just bread

2) Skipping Breakfast Altogether

A woman sitting on the floor resting against a couch drinking a glass of water

Intermittent fasting is a helpful tool for some people’s weight loss journeys. However, if you’re simply skipping meals to try and lose weight without a proper plan, you may end up undereating. And if you’re skipping a meal that your body is used to just to save a few calories, may be doing more harm than good to your health and weight loss goals. Of course, this will depend on your routine and your unique needs.

If you want to incorporate an intermittent fasting schedule into your routine, it can be helpful to start gradual, moving your eating window into a narrower time slot slowly! When in doubt, you may want to consult with your doctor or a dietitian to determine the right way forward for you. 

Tasty Tips

  • If you’re used to eating breakfast, but you’re trying to eat lighter meals that are still high quality, consider a small breakfast like a few boiled eggs or a smoothie instead of skipping it altogether.
  • You can cut calories in other ways, like opting out of a side dish at lunch or skipping a trip to the snack cabinet later on in the day. 

3) Only Eating ‘Breakfast Foods’

A closeup of a woman eating breakfast

Who says that breakfast has to be cereal, pastries, breakfast sandwiches, eggs, and bacon? It’s a good idea to include a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats in every meal. Just because it’s the morning doesn’t mean you have to stick to traditional breakfast foods! Instead, eat what best suits your body and weight loss goals without sacrificing nutrition. 

Tasty Tips

  • Mix it up however you like! If you love salads or soups, start your day with one of those, or add your leftover veggies and protein to a piece of toast.
  • Love vegetables, and find that they work well for your body? Add them to breakfast! Beginning your day with a serving of vegetables is a great way to pack in some vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. 

4) Making Your Coffee Into a Dessert

A cup of coffee on a wooden table

There’s nothing wrong with starting your day with a cup of coffee if it suits you, although some may want to consider eating something before you do. But how you prepare your coffee can significantly affect your weight loss goals and blood glucose levels. Some creamer is okay; cream can actually add healthy fats to your breakfast. It’s important to remember, though, many creamers are packed full of refined sugars and added flavors. These can add a lot of empty calories and cause spikes in blood sugar that may result in an energy crash. 

Tasty Tips

  • Add heavy cream or nut milk to your coffee instead of flavored creamers and syrups. 
  • Try slowly cutting the amount of sugar you scoop into your coffee mug, or try healthy alternatives like stevia extract. The American Heart Association recommends keeping your sugar intake to six teaspoons a day for women and nine teaspoons a day for men, but less is better.
  • Ensure that you read nutrition labels when picking out new milk or cream. Remember, many dairy alternatives can have added sugars. 

5) Eating a Distracted Breakfast 

A woman crossing the street holding a sandwich and a cup of coffee to go

Many of us multitask and move quickly in the mornings because we hit the snooze button and end up pressed for time. When that happens, it’s easy to try to sneak a bite while you’re doing your makeup, packing your bag, or even driving to work! This can lead to over or undereating because your body isn’t given the time it needs to process what you’re consuming well enough. 

Tasty Tips

  • Wake up 10 to 15 minutes earlier than you usually do so that you have time to pay attention to the food you’re eating. You’ll enjoy your meal more this way too! 
  • If you find yourself always rushing in the mornings, think ahead! Batch cook egg muffins, grab protein-packed leftovers, or keep it simple with whole fruit and nut butters. Prepping the night before (or batch cooking over the weekend) can make your mornings much more manageable.

6) Thinking Coffee is a Meal

A man holding a cup of coffee looking down at a dog

This may seem like a comedic hot take on TikTok, but it’s something we’ve all done! Caffeine may curb cravings, but it can also leave you with an empty stomach and a lack of fuel for your body to use until your next meal. This may result in a sudden onset of hunger that leaves you overeating or making poor food choices later in the day. 

Tasty Tips

  • Eat something light but filling with your coffee if you don’t have a large appetite in the morning. Try eating something like a small bowl of steel cut oats and nut butter with your coffee. That way, your body will have healthy fats and fiber to keep it full until lunch. 
  • Drink a small smoothie with some added protein-like protein powder or nut butter. That way, you’re not adding solid foods that change up your routine, but you are starting off the day with the fuel your body needs to burn. 

7) You Forget about Water

A closeup of hands holding a cup of water

Beginning your day adequately hydrated will go a long way to keeping you healthy and feeling full while pursuing your weight loss goals. Being hydrated aids digestive processes and keeps you feeling full throughout the day. Dehydration can also lead to feelings of hunger, resulting in overeating or unhealthy snacking. 

Tasty Tips

  • Drink a full glass of water when you wake up. It will absorb better into your system on an empty stomach and may help you prevent overeating at breakfast.

8) Eating Greasy Proteins

A p late of pancakes, a poached egg, a dot of butter and fried bacon

Protein is an essential part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. However, breakfast meats and proteins are often filled with refined oils, excess salt, added sugars, and unhealthy trans fats. Too much salt can make your body retain water and may cause bloating. While that breakfast sausage may taste incredible, it’s not always a healthy way to start the day. 

Tasty Tips

  • Pan fry some nitrate-free turkey or sear leftover protein (think rotisserie chicken, leftover meatballs, etc)  instead of eating packaged breakfast sausages and patties. 
  • Fry your eggs in healthy oils like avocado oil or olive oil  instead of refined oils.
  • Opt for a grab-and-go protein source like unsweetened Greek yogurt! Top with nuts, unsweetened coconut, and fresh berries for a balanced meal that’s ready in minutes.

9) Only Drinking Your Fruits

A woman with her hair wrapped in a towel, drinking a glass of fruit juice

Juice may seem like an easy and tasty way to integrate more fruits into your diet, but the truth is that most juices have added sugars. By consuming fruit this way, you may end up stripping it of the fiber that whole fruits add to your meal. Fiber keeps you feeling full longer throughout the day, helps slow the uptake of sugars into your bloodstream, and aids indigestion. 

Tasty Tips

  • Enjoy whole fruits or make a fruit salad for breakfast. Make sure to pair with a protein to promote blood sugar balance!
  • Make a smoothie instead of drinking juice. This way, you blend all of that fiber and forgo added sugars while you drink your breakfast.
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Carlee Hayes, RDN, CD

Reviewed by: Carlee Hayes, RDN, CD

Carlee's training at Western Illinois University and an internship at the Memphis VA Hospital lead her to a career in outpatient counseling and bariatric nutrition therapy. In these positions, Carlee realized many of the disease states (upwards of 80%!) her patients experienced were actually preventable. She knew she had to dig deeper into preventative health and has since been passionate about helping people translate this complex glucose data into actionable changes anyone can implement into their everyday lives.

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