A new study finds that a protein-packed breakfast could keep you feeling fuller, and eating less, all day.
University of Missouri-Columbia scientists studied 20 overweight or obese young women (ages 18-20) who either skipped breakfast, consumed a high-protein breakfast including eggs and lean beef, or ate a bowl of ready-to-eat cereal. Each breakfast consisted of 350 calories and matched for dietary fiber, fat, sugar, and energy density. The high-protein breakfast, however, contained 35 grams of protein.
Subjects completed questionnaires and provided blood samples throughout the day. Prior to dinner, a brain scan using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed to track brain signals that control food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior.
The subjects who ate the high-protein breakfast reported feeling satiated, and their brain activity supported that, with low activity in the areas responsible for controlling food cravings. The high-protein breakfast also reduced evening snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods, compared to the other groups.
Findings appear in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
"Eating a protein-rich breakfast impacts the drive to eat later in the day, when people are more likely to consume high-fat or high-sugar snacks," study author Heather Leidy said in a March 26 university press release. "These data suggest that eating a protein-rich breakfast is one potential strategy to prevent overeating and improve diet quality by replacing unhealthy snacks with high quality breakfast foods."
If you're prone to skipping breakfast, Leidy suggests to give it three days, since that's how long it takes for the body to adjust to eating early.
Study participants ate egg- and beef-based foods such as burritos or egg-based waffles with applesauce and a beef sausage patty as part of a high-protein breakfast. Leidy also suggests eating plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or ground pork loin as alternatives to reach the 35 grams of protein.
Another way to shed extra weight in time for spring? Opt for a morning workout routine before that protein-rich breakfast. Researchers from Northumbria University in the UK say that you can burn 20 percent more body fat by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach. Findings appeared this January in the British Journal of Nutrition.