According to a new study, eating a breakfast rich in protein significantly improves appetite control and reduces unhealthy snacking on high-fat or high-sugar foods in the evening.
This is the first to examine the impact of breakfast consumption on daily appetite and evening snacking in young people who habitually skip breakfast.
In the study, 20 overweight or obese adolescent females, ages 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. Every breakfast consisted of 350 calories and was matched for dietary fat, fiber, sugar and energy density.
The high-protein breakfast contained 35 grams of protein. Participants 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 consumption of the high-protein breakfast led to increased fullness or "satiety" along with reductions in brain activity that is responsible for controlling food cravings. The high-protein breakfast also reduced evening snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods compared to when breakfast was skipped or when a normal protein, ready-to-eat cereal breakfast was consumed.
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.
People who normally skip breakfast might be skeptical about consuming food in the morning, but it only takes about three days for the body to adjust to eating early in the day. 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. Other high protein suggestions include plain Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese alternatives to reach the 35 grams of protein.
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