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Breakfast: Start Me Up

For years, we've heard about the importance of eating a proper breakfast. But what you may not know is that eating breakfast can also help you lose weight and keep it off.

On The Saturday Early Show, Dr. Mallika Marshall talks about the best foods you can eat to start off your day, and which ones to avoid.

Some people skip breakfast because they're rushing to get out the door in the morning and would rather sleep in an extra 10 minutes than fix something to eat.

Other people who are trying to lose weight figure if they skip breakfast, they can save those calories for later. But as it turns out, skipping breakfast can cause people to gain weight rather than lose it. Dr. Marshall says some studies indicate that kids and adults who eat breakfast on a regular basis tend to be thinner, on average, and tend to eat fewer calories overall during the day.

It seems strange that this should be the case. After all, one would think that if a person eats only two main meals each day instead of three, then a person would consume fewer calories.

Dr. Marshall explains that, first of all, people who skip breakfast are starving by lunchtime and are much more likely to eat more calories at lunch and dinner and are more likely to eat foods higher in fat and sugar. They are also more likely to snack during the day.

Also, eating in the morning can "jumpstart" your metabolism and help you start to burn calories sooner than if you fast until lunchtime. The more you starve your body of fuel, the more your body will hold onto the fuel it has already stored, and that can lead to a weight problem.

The choice of breakfast foods matters, as well. First, choose foods that are high in fiber and protein and healthy fats, all of which will fill you up without causing you to pack on the pounds. Avoid lots of sugar and saturated fat.

If you like sweet cereal, buy an unsweetened cereal and add a little artificial sweetener to give it more taste.

Parents should be aware that some children's cereals contain less sugar than others.

Another thing you can do is mix a little sugary cereal with a high-fiber cereal and see how that goes over with your kids. Oatmeal is also a good high-fiber option. And adding a scoop of blueberries or strawberries to your cereal or oatmeal can also spice it up and give you some antioxidants.

Choose low-fat milk or even low-fat soy milk for your cereal.

A popular breakfast choice for those on the go is the bagel. Dr. Marshall warns that the average bagel these days is equivalent to about five slices of bread. Whole-grain breads or whole-grain English muffins are better options. Instead of eating a whole bagel, eat half a bagel or eat one or two little ones. Instead of using cream cheese or butter (which are loaded with saturated fat), try peanut butter or almond butter.

Eggs are a wonderful high-protein meal, but you get into trouble when you start adding butter and cheese. So eat a boiled or poached egg instead. Try an egg-white omelet cooked in vegetable oil with some fresh vegetables. If you really want cheese, buy a low-fat cheese.

As for yogurt, there are some healthy options. But many popular brands have a lot of sugar in them. So try buying low-fat plain yogurt and add some berries or other fruit, or else make a fruit smoothie that you can take with you.

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