You have been told this before, but now there is research to support it. Successful dieters report eating breakfast every day. Eating a morning meal helps reduce later consumption of fat and minimizes impulsive snacking during the day. It is common for people who don’t eat breakfast to make up the missed calories later in the day and even consume more calories than they would if they had eaten breakfast. And as an athlete, you need the additional energy and carbohydrate to help you perform your best. Be sure to include breakfast in your custom meal plan.

Start With a Low-Calorie, High-Volume Appetizer

Interesting research by Barbara Rolls—who has spent her career studying eating behavior and weight management—at Pennsylvania State University has found that consuming food or meals with a low energy density, measured in calories per gram of food, aids in weight control. Our bodies, it seems, do not have calorie meters but rather volume meters, meaning that our hunger is satisfied by a certain volume of food, not a certain number of calories. Consuming foods with low energy density, such ascertain fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-milled cereals and grains, legumes, and broth-based soups, helps us feel more satisfied with fewer calories than if we had eaten more dense foods, such as meats, cheese, pizza, ice cream, and candy.

To incorporate this plan, try eating broth-based soup, yogurt, a leafy salad, or vegetable before or with each meal and make it a point to select more foods with a low energy density. Choosing foods with fewer calories per volume allows more satisfying food portions and—if you make good choices—more vitamins, minerals,and phytochemicals per gram of food. Note, however, that drinking a calorie-free beverage such as water or diet soda with a meal does not count toward the volume of food it takes to satisfy the appetite, as is commonly believed. And consuming a calorie-containing beverage adds to the total calories of the meal. It seems our bodies are simply unaware of the volume that comes from a beverage.