New research suggests that eating a breakfast rich in protein provides considerably better control over appetite and also lowers incidence of unhealthy evening-time snacking of high-fat or high-sugar foods.
Heather Leidy, leading this research, examined the role of breakfast consumption on daily appetite and evening snacking in youngsters who routinely skip breakfast. In her study, 20 overweight or obese adolescent females aged 18 – 20 either skipped breakfast, consumed a high-protein breakfast consisting of eggs and lean beef, or ate a normal-protein breakfast of ready-to-eat cereal. All of them ate a breakfast of 350 calories and the breakfast items were matched for dietary fat, fiber, sugar and energy density. The high-protein breakfast contained 35 grams of protein. Volunteers had to complete a questionnaire and provide blood samples throughout the day. Prior to dinnertime, functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI] scanned brain of the participants to track signs of control food motivation and reward-driven eating behaviour.
Eating high-protein breakfast made the participants feels more full [higher ‘satiety’] while reducing food cravings. Those who ate the high-protein breakfast also snacked lesser in the evening compared to those who skipped breakfast or ate normal breakfast.
“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,” Leidy said. “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.”
This new strategy could help improve the diets of millions of overweight or obese young adults.