Add these belt-tightening foods to your morning menu.
Pop quiz: If your goal is to melt your middle, which of these morning meals will help the most?
- Cereal with nonfat milk
- Scrambled egg whites with veggies
- Fresh fruit bowl
- Unsweetened coffee
Stumped? Congratulations, you’ve been paying attention to your SilverSneakers nutrition news!
While all of these meals check the low-calorie box—and the first three include foods that provide valuable nutrients—they’re low on one crucial component: protein. And that’s a weight loss mistake.
Protein helps you retain muscle mass well into your 60s and beyond, says Christine Rosenbloom, Ph.D., R.D.N., author of Food and Fitness After 50. It curbs midmorning cravings and keeps you feeling full longer, especially when it’s paired with fiber.
Rosenbloom suggests shooting for at least 20 grams of protein during your morning meal. Even healthy cereals come in at less than four grams per serving, and a cup of nonfat milks adds only around eight grams. Skipping the egg yolk means you’re giving up three or four grams per egg. Most fruits have less than one gram of protein per cup, and coffee has next to none.
Although protein should be a priority, Rosenbloom says you shouldn’t neglect your carb intake, especially if you’re a morning exerciser. She’s a fan of combining protein with healthy fats and complex, fiber-rich carbs, such as oats or whole grain bread.
"When you wake up, the carb stores in your liver are fairly depleted, and if you're exercising in the morning, you want to keep your blood sugar levels normal," she explains. "Having a little breakfast can top off the tank."
Ready to eat? Front-load your day with one of these energizing breakfast ideas. They'll prime your metabolism and mood for the day ahead, and help you meet your weight loss goals.
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Weight Loss Breakfast #1: Scrambled Eggs with Peanut Butter Toast
Although many breakfast recipes pack in all the necessary nutrients you need to get through the day, Rosenbloom spotlights one in particular for active seniors: scrambling a whole egg with an egg white for volume and extra protein, plus a slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter.
"Half of the protein is in the yolk, and the yolk is also where most of the other nutrients are," Rosenbloom says. That includes the B vitamin choline, which helps process fat and cholesterol.
Yolks are also an important source of lutein, a nutrient that can reduce the risk of two common age-related vision problems: cataracts and macular degeneration.
Weight Loss Breakfast #2: Quinoa Power Bowl
Oatmeal is a reliable, nutritious breakfast. And when done right, oatmeal can taste amazing. But it’s not your only option for hot breakfast cereals.
Quinoa is a hearty alternative. Plus, it's one of the few whole grains that's considered a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
For a sweet start to the day, try stirring in a little bit of honey, a sprinkling of chopped nuts, and your favorite fruit.
One combination we like: a quinoa bowl made with fresh kiwi, blackberries, and Greek yogurt that clocks in at 30 grams of high-quality protein. Get the recipe for an easy Quinoa Breakfast Bowl here.
Weight Loss Breakfast #3: Greek Yogurt Parfait
If you’re not a fan of a hot breakfast—or just want more variety—Rosenbloom suggests topping plain Greek yogurt, which has about 20 grams of protein per cup, with homemade granola and a handful of berries.
This combo offers a solid balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fat to power through a morning workout and keep you moving until lunchtime.
To make your own granola, simply mix whole grain oats with almonds and a little maple syrup. Set your oven to 325˚F, and bake until it’s the consistency you like—it should take about 30 minutes. If store-bought granola is your best option, choose one with less sugar.
Want more nutritionist-approved morning meal ideas? Check out these protein-packed breakfasts that trim your waistline.
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