Eat a high-protein breakfast to lose fat and keep it off. Research shows that you can lose much more weight and avoid regaining it if you eat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate breakfast rather than skip it altogether or opt for a high-carb breakfast. In addition, eating breakfast before working out will allow you to burn more fat during your workout and achieve a greater post-workout calorie burn.
A recent study from Italy found that contrary to popular belief, training on an empty stomach will not help you burn more fat than if you ate a light meal containing protein and healthy fats beforehand. Researchers compared the effect of having young men run for 38 minutes at a moderate intensity of 65 percent of maximum heart rate after eating breakfast or skipping it.
Results showed that the group that ate breakfast burned significantly more fat for fuel than the fasted group during the workout (14 percent more). Fat oxidation was favored during the 24-hour recovery period after the workout as well. The breakfast group also had greater post-exercise oxygen consumption, which indicates they burned more calories over the 24 hours after training.
The authors concluded that if the goal is body composition, the greatest fat loss will occur by eating breakfast before training because it will enhance the burning of fat for fuel. In addition, by eating protein and saving carbs exclusively for post-workout, muscle gains can be maximized by supporting protein synthesis.
Pair this news with a new study that tested the effect of breakfast and subsequent meal frequency on weight loss. This Spanish compared fat loss in people who naturally ate breakfast and had their main meal (as in the Spanish custom) prior to 3 pm, with the same diet in people who normally skipped breakfast, eating their main meal after 3 pm.
Results showed that the early lunch eaters lost more weight and displayed a faster weight-loss rate during the 20-week study than those who ate later and skipped breakfast. Energy intake, exercise levels, and dietary composition were equal between groups, indicating that meal timing and frequency appeared to be the primary difference leading to greater weight loss.
The take away is that to breakfast is critical and that you should follow it up with frequent small meals every few hours for optimal body composition. Favor high-protein, healthy fat whole foods and limit carb intake. Be sure to always eat before training—avoid intermittent fasting—to ensure maximal focus, drive, and fat burning for optimal performance.