Eating breakfast shows up consistently among the habits of people who have lost weight and maintained their loss.

In a study of members of the National Weight Control Registry—a group whose members have all lost at least 30 pounds and maintained the loss at least a year—78%  say they eat breakfast daily, and almost 90% say they do “most” days. Only 4% say they never eat breakfast—substantially less than the national average of 25%  of adults who say they skip breakfast.

While it may seem that skipping breakfast would make weight control easier, studies suggest eating breakfast may help reduce calorie intake later in the day. People who skip or eat an inadequate breakfast may find midmorning to be a time they’re likely to eat high-calorie foods. They may also get extremely hungry at lunch and overeat. Studies of binge eating consistently link it with a pattern of eating little in the morning and large amounts near the end of the day.

If you aren’t hungry in the morning, you may want to try eating less at night. Many people who do this begin waking up hungry. For others, a piece of fruit to start the day and a healthful early-morning snack may serve as a helpful transition to developing healthful breakfast habits.

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—Karen Collins, MS, RD, American Institute for Cancer Research