Eating breakfast has been linked to many health benefits–including weight control and improved mental performance—but with so many options available, health-conscious breakfast-eaters may question what to put on their plates. New data presented at Obesity Week 2013, says that protein is key. The study from the University of Missouri highlighted the importance of eating a high protein breakfast in regard to appetite control. The study involved women ages 18-55, and found that eating high protein sausage and egg-based breakfasts curbed hunger throughout the morning, compared with a low-protein breakfast or skipping breakfast altogether.
All of the breakfast meals in the study contained similar amounts of fat and fiber and were approximately 300 calories. The protein-rich breakfast bowls contained 30 to 39 grams of protein. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires to rate aspects of appetite, including fullness, hunger and desire to eat, before breakfast and at 30 minute intervals between breakfast and lunch. Then the participants were given a lunch consisting of tortellini and sauce and were instructed to eat until comfortably full. After eating a protein-rich breakfast, participants had improved appetite ratings (more fullness, less hunger, less desire to eat) throughout the morning, and also ate fewer calories at lunch, compared with the low-protein breakfast and breakfast skipping. The results show that a higher protein breakfast can help women feel fuller until lunch time, potentially avoiding overeating and improving overall diet quality.
In the past there have been conflicting reports on whether eating breakfast is important for weight loss. It may be that the differences in the effectiveness of eating breakfast may be related to the amount of protein that subjects in the previous studies ate. In another presentation at Obesity Week, researchers talked about their findings that low carb diets achieved larger body weight loss and maintenance in the presence of high protein, but not in the presence of normal protein consumption.
A traditional breakfast of eggs may be one of the best ways to get your morning protein. One egg has about 6 grams of protein, and each ounce of cooked meat has roughly 7 grams of protein. Other higher-protein choices include Greek yogurt, nut butters or cottage cheese.
Related Reading: Further Evidence Supporting the Importance of Breakfast