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Why I Love WeightWatchers But Would Never Go Back

by | Mar 22, 2010

I used to look like this. Not anymore.

Nothing makes me happier than helping someone discover real food. Not only does their health physically transform, but they learn about a world of tastes and flavors that can be truly life changing.

My friend E began her healthstyle upgrade at the beginning of 2010, and I’m delighted that she agreed to share her story with Summer Tomato readers.

E. Foley is a geek girl extraordinaire. She writes amazing online dating profiles for geeks and non-geeks, helping clients all over the world find love. Her writing can be found at Examiner.com, Dating Sites Reviews, and elsewhere as a ghostwriter. By day, she is the Copywriter at ThinkGeek.

Follow her @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.

Dating profiles for geeks = http://geeksdreamgirl.com

Why I Love WeightWatchers But Would Never Go Back

By E. Foley

My name is E and in 2003, I became a Lifetime Member of WeightWatchers after losing nearly 50 pounds and reaching my goal weight of 145.

Fast-forward to 2010, and I now weigh over 230 pounds. I’m 5’7″.

I gained back every pound I lost on WeightWatchers and then some. I did try to lose it. Over and over and over again I rejoined WeightWatchers and lost a handful of pounds before slipping back into bad habits and regaining them.

There is so much I love about the WeightWatchers program, but in the end, it’s Darya’s Healthstyle that has been the best choice for me.

Things I Loved About WeightWatchers

Weekly accountability

Knowing that I had to step on the scale in front of a staff member every Saturday motivated me to stay on track.

Group support

It may sound dumb, but it really felt good to have the group applaud for me when I had a good week. Knowing they’d be there to support me on a bad week was also comforting.

Balanced nutrition

I’ll get into this more later, but the WeightWatchers program, if followed to the letter, is nutritionally sound.

Role models

All the staff members are Lifetime Members, and there are always a few Lifetime Members who attend weekly meetings.

Things to ponder

Every meeting gave me something to think about, a food or recipe I wanted to try, or a warm fuzzy feeling that propelled me into the week.

Reasons Why I Can’t Go Back to WeightWatchers

Gaming the System

When I achieved Lifetime status, it was on the Flex plan. This plan allows you a certain budget of Points per day which you can spend on various types of food. The Points value of the food depends on its calories, fat, and fiber. Many vegetables are zero points, which you’d think would encourage their consumption. Not so. When I reached my goal weight, I was burning calories like mad at a gym. Some days I did two cardio classes in a row and then yoga or Pilates. This allowed me to earn Activity Points which I then spent on those tasty (but sugary!) Milk & Cereal bars that are anything but healthy.

When I regained the weight and went back to WeightWatchers, I jumped back into the same Flex program. The game for me was figuring out how to play the numbers so they added up on paper to the magic number. It got to the point where I could be “perfect” on paper but not lose a single pound.

Frustrated, I’d quit.

WeightWatchers’ Attempt at Healthstyle Fails

Later, WeightWatchers rolled out the Core program and I saw success again. Core allowed members to eat lean meats, fat-free dairy, fruits and vegetables “until satisfied.” A weekly Points budget allowed eating things that weren’t Core (namely carbs, sugars, and fats). Also included on the “free to eat” list was your daily serving of heart-healthy oils.

But Core wasn’t popular among the WeightWatchers membership. In my meetings, I’d often be the only person in the room on Core, so advice in the meeting was tailored toward Flex members. Sometimes I’d get lucky and have a leader who was on Core, but not always. Even though I was losing weight regularly on Core, the lack of support for the program made going to meetings not as helpful or motivating. WeightWatchers finally eliminated the Core program, going back to a One-Plan-Fits-All mentality.

Eat Healthy OR Filling

Remember how I said that the plan is nutritionally sound if followed to the letter? The problem with WeightWatchers is that as long as you lose weight, no one questions what you’re eating. I wish I still had my food journals from those days, because I can tell you I went full weeks without consuming a vegetable or fruit.

In the meetings, the leader would talk about getting your heart healthy oil in every day, and inevitably, someone would complain about having to “waste Points” on olive oil, when they could just use a few spritzes of aerosol cooking spray instead. When you’re working with 20 points per day (which is what I was eating when I was close to my goal weight), it does seem like a waste to use 4 of those points for a tablespoon of olive oil. Especially when 4 points could be spent on bread or meat or cheese. Or a Milk & Cereal bar.

Diet For Life?

My biggest problem with WeightWatchers is that it never felt like a way to eat for the rest of my life. Maybe it did for a while, but once hard times hit, I didn’t have the incentive to stick to my guns and eat healthy, mainly because what I ate when I was on program wasn’t all that tasty. (WeightWatchers has tons of recipe books, but all the recipes are pretty bland and uninspired.)

Finding Darya Was The Best Thing That Happened To Me

Dr. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, says that “the best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.” This is exactly how I feel about my new healthstyle.

I don’t feel stressed out about food.

I don’t feel deprived of things I want to eat.

I don’t look forward to the day I get to “eat normal” again.

I don’t feel like the way I am eating is a ball and chain.

I don’t eat food that doesn’t taste delicious.

My Healthstyle

Breakfast: Every other Sunday, I make a giant batch of breakfast hot pockets from scratch. I have played with the dough recipe a bit to decrease the white flour down to 5 cups white, 3.5 cups wheat, 1.5 cups almond meal. Since my boyfriend is vegetarian, we use the sausage substitute. They freeze well and reheat in the microwave in 95 seconds. I love them because I am not a morning person, so I wake up as late as possible and eat on my drive to the gym.

Exercise: I am blessed to have a work schedule that allows me to work out from 8:30-9:45 a.m. just about every day. I do miss the gym from time to time, but I’m there more days than I’m not, which is a great start!

Lunch: I love salad bars, but they’re so expensive. So I started up a Salad Club at my work! We have anywhere from 4 to 6 people who participate each week, pitching in various veggies and fruits and toppings and dressings. If you’re curious, follow me on Twitter and you can see a picture of my Salad Club every weekday. When I’m lunching at home, it’s usually kale with toasted nuts and garlic and whatever leftover grain I have in the fridge.

Snacks: Back in my WeightWatchers days, I avoided nuts. Too high in calories, too high in fat, too many Points! Now, I have a variety of nuts on my desk at work and usually eat an ounce or two of nuts every day. They really help bridge the gap between meals and prevent me from snacking on the junk food in the office kitchen.

Dinner: I make all sorts of great things for dinners now. We still have our old standbys (vegetarian tacos & Annie’s mac n’ cheese), but more often than not, I’m surfing the internet for recipes after buying whatever looks good in the store (Sadly, being on the East Coast makes the farmers market thing a little less feasible in the winter. But spring is almost here!!). I think my favorite so far is the stuffed portobello mushrooms (pictured here).

The Bottom Line

I don’t feel like this is a diet. I feel like I’m eating better and tastier foods than I have in my whole life. I’ve eaten more nuts and olive oil in the past 3 months than I have in 3 years. But I’m losing at a steady rate of about a 1/2 pound per week. No, it’s not fast or impressive. But I’m eating amazing food, I’m never hungry (for long!), and I’m not killing myself at the gym to do it. If it takes me 3 years to get down to 140-150 again, that’s fine by me. The weight loss is just a pleasant side effect of my healthstyle, and I have Darya to thank for all her advice and personal coaching.

If you’ve been lurking on the blog and wondering about working with Darya to get your healthstyle on, take the step and do it. I feel so much better and the weight is melting off while I’m eating the most delicious food of my life. You can do it, too.

What is your healthstyle?

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How I Lost 20 Pounds In 9 Months Without Dieting

by | Sep 23, 2009
Quarter Pounder

Quarter Pounder

Today one of my best and oldest friends, David Goodman, shares his remarkable story of how he dropped 20 pounds this year so far “without hardly trying.”

He says the influence I’ve had on him through conversations and articles here at Summer Tomato has helped him make better food choices almost subconsciously.

David and I have a long diet history together (he’s the friend from college I mention in the link), and I am honored to have him share his success story with you. Though he says he is only beginning his journey, I think we can all agree he has made tremendous progress already.

Congratulations Dave!

Dr. Darya: Or how I learned to stop worrying about my weight and love food

And drop 20 lbs in nine months.

by David Goodman

In December of 2008 I weighed 225 lbs. As of yesterday, I weigh 205 lbs.

It’s actually hard for me to view this as a big accomplishment. I have been planning to lose a lot more weight. (My goal is to weigh closer to 165 lbs). But the funny part is that while I have been “planning” to lose all this weight, I have, as Darya pointed out, lost a significant amount. And I have lost it, I can assure you, without being on a diet.

Darya told me that this was exactly the kind of weight loss she believed people could achieve by following her advice. She also reminded me that if I kept up this same pace every nine months, it wouldn’t be that long until I reached my goal. And significantly, I certainly won’t be gaining more weight, which is often the trend for people as they get older.

When Darya asked me to think about how I lost these 20 lbs, the reason was hard to pinpoint. Because it hadn’t occurred rapidly, and because I didn’t actively try to lose weight with a restrictive diet, it was almost like it didn’t “count.” Also, because I haven’t reached my ultimate goal, I don’t really feel like a success story just yet.

On the other hand, losing weight without trying is pretty awesome. And if this weight loss keeps up and stays off, I’ll be right where I want to be in 18 months.

So how did this happen, you ask? As far as I can tell, it went like this:

Darya and I have been talking about food for the past year. I have never been much of a cook and I ate out for most of my meals. I think I was eating fast food about 5-10 times a week.

As I talked to Darya and read her blog, I found myself thinking more and more about “good” food. In fact, without really meaning to I started categorizing food into two groups: “real” food and “crap” food. From what I could tell, simply put, real food grows in the ground, or eats food that grows in the ground. Crap food is made in laboratories and/or mass produced. It is fried or filled with sugar or both.

At first my categorizing food as crap didn’t really stop me from eating it. I was used to my routines and didn’t think about actively changing. Talking and thinking about health, nutrition, and good food made me want to behave differently, but I figured I would need to make major life changes to accomplish that, and I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. This is what I meant when I was “planning” to lose weight.

But I think it was hard to read and talk about healthy food and not incorporate some of that into my life. Slowly, without realizing it, I just started eating green vegetables more often. I definitely put more nuts, fish, and brown rice into my diet too. I don’t think I was eating those foods very much at all before I started talking to Darya about healthy food.

(Read more: Get Fit By Becoming A Food Geek)

Most of all, I stopped eating fast food so much and started making more meals at home. This happened so gradually that it is hard to remember the exact chain of events. Nine months ago it was 5-10 times a week for fast food. These days I usually go more than a week without having it at all. Last week I only had fast food once (I had a cheeseburger at In-N-Out. Sorry Darya, but in my defense, I was pretty drunk).

(Read more: Don’t Eat This, Don’t Eat That: Why Fast Food Is Never Healthy)

My eating is still far from perfect. I could do a lot better on the size of my portions and I still eat crap food from time to time. Also, to reach my ultimate goal of 165 lbs I think I am going to have to start exercising more. During the last nine months the most I did was go walking a few times a week. My gym attendance was inconsistent at best. But I think what my experience really shows is that gradual progress is possible with a few basic, common sense changes to what we eat.

Also, the food that I have been making and eating at home has been delicious. I don’t miss the crap food that I haven’t been eating and I look forward to the fresh, healthy food that I’ve been preparing.

Maybe this losing weight thing doesn’t have to be so hard. Maybe it’s just a matter of paying more attention and really being conscious about what we are eating and whether or not it’s really good food.

(Read more: How To Get Started Eating Healthy)

Have you lost weight eating real food? What are the biggest challenges for you?
http://forms.aweber.com/form/30/split_210533730.htm

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Eco-Atkins Diet May Be Healthier Alternative for Weight Loss

by | Jun 10, 2009
Collards, Carrots and Lentils

Collards, Carrots and Lentils

A new study published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that both weight loss and risk factors for heart disease can be improved following a vegan version of the low-carb, high-protein Atkins diet.

The “Eco-Atkins” diet focuses primarily on soy, nuts and wheat proteins (gluten) to increase the amount of vegetarian protein in the diet. Carbohydrates were restricted to 130 g/day, which is on the higher end of most low-carb diets. All starchy foods such as bread, baked goods, potatoes and rice were eliminated. Carbohydrates were provided in the form of whole, intact grains (barley and oats) and low-starch vegetables.

In a small (47 participants), short-term randomized controlled trial, this diet lowered bad LDL cholesterol by 20%, without negatively impacting good HDL cholesterol (statin drugs improve cholesterol levels by 30%). The diet also substantially lowered blood pressure and other markers of cardiovascular disease, such as triglycerides and apolipoprotein B.

The original meat-based Atkins diet has been shown to be effective for temporary weight loss (after 1 year the effects of the Atkins diet are diminished), but cardiovascular risk factors such as LDL cholesterol and blood pressure are not substantially improved under the traditional Atkins regimen.

Interestingly, a traditional Atkins-style diet based on animal protein was not used as a control in this study, so a true comparison of the diets cannot be made using the present data. Instead the researchers chose a control diet representative of a typical high-carb, low-fat vegetarian diet that included eggs and dairy products. Both diets tested in this study represented a 60% decrease in total calories.

Because of the study design, we cannot conclude that this diet is more effective than the Atkins diet for health, though you would predict it would be if future studies made this comparison. On the other hand, it does seem that a plant-based high-protein diet is more effective at improving health than a high-carbohydrate lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, at least in the short-term in a highly controlled environment.

This study took place over the course of 4 weeks, and all the food was provided for the particpants by the researchers. Thus, compliance in the program was very high. It is not clear if the participants would have had the same level of success if they were instructed to provide their own food to comply with the dietary programs.

Despite this, satiety levels were notably improved in the high-protein group and it would be expected that the increase in satiety would encourage greater compliance in a free living situation.

A small four week study, however, tells us very little about the effectiveness of this diet. While it is possible to improve risk factors such as cholesterol and blood pressure in such a short period of time, disease outcome is the true measure of a successful diet. Also, this study did not test the feasibility of the Eco-Atkins diet in the long-term, and it is likely many dieters would object to a strictly vegan regimen.

Interesting points raised by this preliminary study include:

  • Plant-based, high-protein diets may be more effective at improving cholesterol and other cardiovascular measures than traditional lacto-ovo vegetarian diets.
  • Short-term weight loss is primarily determined by the number of calories consumed, not macronutrient content.
  • Low-carb diets that include intact whole grains and plant-based protein can be effective at improving both weight and cardiovascular risk factors in the short-term.
  • Plant-based high-protein diets can increase satiety compared to high-carb vegetarian diets.

However, many questions must be addressed before this diet can be recommended to individuals trying to improve cardiovascular measures and lose weight.

New questions:

  • Can the Eco-Atkins diet be maintained in the long-term by normal individuals?
  • Does the Eco-Atkins diet continue to improve cardiovascular risk factors including weight loss after 4 weeks?
  • What would result from this study if beans and lentils were used instead of soy and gluten?
  • Does the Eco-Atkins diet improve disease outcome?
  • Does the Eco-Atkins diet extend life?
  • Does the Eco-Atkins diet affect quality of life?
  • Can these effects be attained through other diets that include some animal protein, more whole grains or more fat?
  • Is the effectiveness of the Eco-Atkins diet affected by an individual’s level of insulin resistance?
  • Can adding fish further improve the results of the Eco-Atkins diet?
  • Can a further reduction in carbohydrates improve the results?
  • Will you get these same results if the study is NOT funded by the soy industry?

In summary, the results of this study are interesting and encouraging, especially for those of us who think both carbohydrates and meat should be limited in a healthy diet. I very much look forward to future studies exploring this idea.

What concerns me most is the lack of marine omega-3 fatty acids (fish) in the Eco-Atkins diet, which could potentially improve cardiovascular measures even further. Fish is also important for cognitive health and may lower cancer risk.

I am also worried that a strictly vegan diet would not be feasible in the long-term for many Americans. Moreover, it is not necessarily the healthiest option available. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a particular concern, but could be addressed with supplements. Generally, however, I do not recommend relying on supplements for optimal nutrition.

Finally, this study was funded by a company that makes soy and gluten products. Personally I would have prefered to see these protein sources used in combination with other things such as beans and lentils. Many people question how much soy can be safely consumed and gluten intolerance is more common than ever, so wouldn’t it be interesting to know if there were safer alternatives? It really annoys me to see science being influenced by industry funding.

What do you think of the Eco-Atkins diet?

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Low-Carb, Low-Fat and High-Protein Diets Equally Useless

by | Feb 27, 2009

A widely publicized study out this week in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that there is virtually no difference between low-carb, low-fat, high-carb or high-protein diets when it comes to weight loss. I don’t often like to toot my own horn, but if you read my post on Monday about the Top 10 Food Facts Everyone Should Know (see point #10), then this was not news to you.

For several years now data has been accumulating that the relative composition of different macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein) in your diet has little to no effect on long-term weight loss. What makes this study stand out from the pack is how well it was designed.

The Study

This was the largest, longest run study of this kind ever conducted, including nearly 650 over weight individuals of diverse racial, socioeconomic, geographic and education backgrounds. The participants were highly motivated to lose weight and were given detailed instructions on why their assigned diet was considered an effective weight loss strategy (this was to remove bias caused by the media about popular diets).

For you carbophobes out there, the importance of dietary carbohydrates was addressed directly. The amount of carbohydrates in the different diets varied from 35% (very low) to 65% (very high). All participants, including those on the high-carb diet, were instructed to choose foods that had lower glycemic index. Carbohydrate composition had no significant effect on long-term weight loss.

All subjects received substantial behavioral therapy to help them meet their goals, and detailed measurements of health and weight loss were collected from each individual throughout the study. The participants were told to keep food journals and use online support provided, as well as weekly dietary counseling.

Importantly, all the diets resulted in similar calorie deficiencies to promote weight loss. Not surprisingly, after 6 months all the participants had lost a substantial amount of weight, but after 1 year had gained about half of it back. During the final year the subjects had more difficulty sticking to their assigned diets, particularly those assigned the most extreme regimens (very low-fat or high-protein).

Conclusions

Regardless of diet, all participants experienced similar, modest (5% body weight reduction), but clinically relevant weight loss that is mainly attributed to a reduction in calories.

Interestingly, the measure that best correlated with weight loss success was attendance at the dietary counseling sessions.

Since the study is over can we now assume that many of these participants have gone back to their old eating habits? I would bet yes.

What can we take away from this study?

You can lose weight on any diet, but for most people it is very difficult and not sustained. This is because cutting calories is very tough for most people.

This study also suggests that losing weight with standard diets is very difficult and, in most cases, only moderately helpful. It seems future research should focus on how to increase adherence to a lower calorie diet. Gaming the system by manipulating macronutrient composition doesn’t seem to be working.

Why you should focus on whole foods, not nutrients

Another thing we can take from this study is that if weight loss is your goal, calories are what count. (Some of my friends responded to this finding brilliantly: “DUH.”) The nice thing about a diet based primarily on vegetables is that lowering caloric intake is relatively easy. As long as some effort is made to achieve a balanced diet (enough plant protein and fats), satisfaction after a meal can be attained with far fewer calories.

Vegetables are very bulky, highly nutritious and have very few calories. It’s not easy to gain weight when you eat kale, beans and brown rice for dinner.

Like I explained a few weeks ago, since I have focused on health (rather than weight) and a vegetable-based (rather than macronutrient-based) diet, I have lost weight effortlessly. I am also less stressed about food in general, and have completely lost my old cravings for sugar and fat.

Best of all, I do not feel like I have given up anything whatsoever. In fact I would argue I have gained the freedom to eat what I want, whenever I want it. And the food I eat is much more satisfying and delicious. I guarantee you this tagine tasted better than any Atkins bar, rice cake or BigMac.

My life now is much more delicious.

Are you ready to give up diets and focus on health?

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The Latest on Carbs, Fat and Weight Loss

by | Jan 29, 2009

A study published last week in the journal Obesity may make you question whether you really want to rely on the Atkins or South Beach diets to reach your New Year’s Resolution goals.

It is widely believed that low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets support weight loss in most individuals and indeed, there is a good amount of research to back this claim. Despite this, few studies have examined the after effects of a low-carb diet, particularly once normal eating is resumed.

In a new study, scientists had rats consume either a regular high-carb diet or a low-carb, high-fat diet for sixteen days. After this period the diets were switched and rats were maintained on the opposite diet for another sixteen days. Both diets included the same number of calories, so the only difference between the groups was the relative percentage of macronutrients.

As you might expect, while the rats were fed a low-carb, high-fat diet they lost weight compared to rats on a regular diet. Interestingly, however, despite this loss of body weight there was little to no loss of fat, and therefore the rats that lost weight had a relatively higher body fat percentage than the rats fed a normal diet.

The low-carb rats also had lower energy expenditure (exercise and calorie burning) than rats on a normal diet, and the decrease persisted even when the animals were returned to a normal diet. This is consistent with reports of exhaustion in humans undergoing very low-carb diet regimens.

Furthermore, animals that were temporarily put on a low-carb diet regained more weight than animals that were never fed a low-carb diet. This suggests that short term exposure to a low-carb diet increases risk of weight gain compared to no dieting.

Uh oh.

According to this research it is possible that a low-carb diet may actually cause you to gain weight in the long run. How very unfortunate.

But while these results are compelling, do not go stocking up on pasta just yet. First remember that these are rats, not humans. The way scientists change the composition of a rat’s diet is by giving them different pellets of bizarre lab food with various proportions of “nutrients.” This is not the way humans eat (assuming you don’t spend too much time in GNC), nor can it ever reflect a healthy human diet. It would be great if they could put the rats on a diet of seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fatty fish, but that is not the way animal research works. This is something to keep in mind whenever you hear about nutrition studies.

Also, nutrition research using rodents rarely distinguishes between the qualities of different macronutrients. For example, did the “high-fat” diet contain mostly saturated fat, trans fat, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats or all of the above? A similar question can be asked about the quality of carbohydrates, but it is difficult to imagine high-quality carbohydrates coming in pellet form. A huge body of scientific literature suggests that the quality of different macronutrients is far more important to health and weight than relative proportions of refined macronutrients.

Protein is another question mark in this study, which the authors acknowledge. The low-carb diet they used was not high in protein like a typical Atkins style diet. However, their findings were similar to studies that did use higher protein content and their animals were fed sufficient protein to maintain normal body growth, so the effect of protein on their findings is likely to be small. Their goal was to examine the effect of extreme carbohydrate restriction, and this was accomplished.

Regardless of this study’s imperfections, the results shine an interesting light on our current understanding of how relative proportions of dietary macronutrients effect body composition, long-term body weight and metabolism.

Have you experienced weight gain after going off a low-carb diet?

UPDATE: This article is also available at Synapse.

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Breakfast Cereal Eaters are Thinner, More Nourished

by | Nov 12, 2008

The case for eating breakfast everyday is mounting. We already know that people who eat breakfast are generally thinner than those who do not. They also tend to eat a healthier diet overall. Now new data suggest that the nutritional quality of your breakfast is also important for your health. Surprise!

A study published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is the first to address how your choice of breakfast is correlated with the quality of food chosen during the rest of the day. The scientists combined dietary data from three continuous National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1999-2004) to determine energy density, nutritional quality and variety of foods eaten. They also examined the relationship between breakfast choices and body mass index (BMI). A total of 12,316 people were analyzed.

Eighty percent of people in the study reported eating breakfast. Although breakfast eaters ate more total daily calories during the study, the foods they chose tended to be of lower energy density. Lower energy density foods have fewer calories per gram and are usually associated with more nutritious fare such as fruits, vegetables and grains. Examples of higher energy density foods are meats, cheeses and processed carbohydrates.

Interestingly, breakfasts of lower energy density, such as cereal with milk and fruit, were an indication of a more diverse diet throughout the rest of the day. In other words, participants who ate cereal for breakfast were more likely to report eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and other healthful foods overall. This was true whether or not breakfast itself was included in the calculation.

People who chose breakfasts of higher energy density ate fewer different kinds of foods, but more pastries and junk foods. Countless studies have shown that dietary diversity is one of the best predictors of good health. This was confirmed in this study, as higher energy density breakfasts predicted fewer beneficial micronutrients consumed overall.

The researchers also found that seventeen percent of people who ate breakfast reported items that could not be “grouped into the major food groups,” things such as pastries, confections and meal replacement drinks and bars. With this the authors of the study point out that a significant percentage of Americans do not eat “real food” for breakfast (somewhere Michael Pollan is smiling and nodding). Not surprisingly, this group comprised the highest average energy density of any type of breakfast.

Women (but not men) that did not eat breakfast had a higher average BMI. This was true regardless of body image or attempted weight loss. In both men and women, breakfast energy density showed a linear positive association with BMI. This means that even for people who do eat breakfast, if you eat foods with higher energy density you will probably weigh more.

In English, what this all means is that although eating breakfast alone does a body good, it is much better if your breakfast is cereal and fruit rather than eggs and meat.

There is no clear cause and effect in an analysis of this kind, however there seems to be a correlation between eating less healthy foods at breakfast and making poor food choices throughout the day. While it is possible that some people simply make unhealthy selections all the time, there is also a possibility that your breakfast choices affect metabolic and hormonal systems that alter your cravings for different foods over the course of the day. Indeed, there are studies showing that people who eat whole grains in the morning have altered insulin responses for nine to twelve hours after eating.

Even if your breakfast choice does not have a direct impact on the rest of your food selections, choosing cereals and fruit will certainly bring you a step closer to better health. Pouring a bowl of whole grain cereal and adding some fruit is pretty simple, and I guarantee you it is easier than making eggs and sausage. Do yourself a favor and save the cakes and donuts for dessert.

This article can also be found at Synapse.

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