Forget toast, cereal, and pancakes. If you're trying to lose weight, new research suggests starting the day with a high-protein breakfast — including eggs and low-fat turkey sausage — can leave you feeling fuller and less likely to chow down on between-meal snacks or binge on your lunch hour than if you go with higher-carb options.
The study, presented at the American Society for Nutrition's Experimental Biology conference in Chicago this week, compared common breakfasts with varying amounts of protein — including a commercially prepared turkey-sausage and egg bowl, cereal and milk, and pancakes with syrup.
The results showed that choosing the higher-protein meal provided better appetite and glucose control throughout the day, compared to lower-protein breakfasts, according to lead researcher Melinda Karalus, M.D.
To conduct the study, Dr. Karalus asked volunteers to rate their level of hunger before eating one of six breakfast meals and then at 30-minute intervals for four hours. All six breakfast meals were similar in calories, fat and fiber, but varied in protein levels. The test meals included three turkey-sausage and egg-based breakfast bowls containing 40, 23 and 9 grams of protein; a cereal and milk breakfast containing eight grams of protein; and a pancake and syrup breakfast with three grams of protein. Study participants were also surveyed after having no breakfast at all.
The results showed the higher-protein breakfasts left participants feeling less hungry throughout the morning, and made them more likely to consume fewer calories at lunch, than the lower-protein cereal and pancake and syrup breakfasts, or having no breakfast at all.
A second study presented at the conference also found that high-protein breakfasts, containing 39 grams of protein, helped stabilized blood glucose levels after eating than lower-protein meals.
"There is great value in understanding protein's true power when optimal amounts are consumed," said Kristin Harris, M.D., head of nutrition research at Hillshire Brands, which sponsored the research. "Protein is top of mind, but consumers should be more informed about how much protein they need at each meal occasion so they can maximize benefits, like hunger control."
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