Protein-rich breakfasts prevent unhealthy snacking in the evening

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. Credit: University of Missouri

Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but up to 60 percent of American young people consistently skip it. Now, Heather Leidy, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, says eating a breakfast rich in protein significantly improves appetite control and reduces unhealthy snacking on high-fat or high-sugar foods in the evening, which could help improve the diets of more than 25 million overweight or obese young adults in the U.S.

Leidy is the first to examine the impact of breakfast consumption on daily appetite and evening snacking in young people who habitually skip breakfast. In her study, 20 overweight or obese 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 (fMRI) was performed to track 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, Leidy said.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Heather Leidy, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, says adding protein to breakfast significantly reduces snacking on high-fat or high-sugar foods later in the day. Credit: Nathan Hurst/University of Missouri

"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 by replacing unhealthy snacks with high quality breakfast foods."

People who normally skip breakfast might be skeptical about consuming food in the morning, but Leidy says 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; Leidy also suggests eating plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or ground pork loin as alternatives to reach the 35 grams of protein.

Future research will examine whether regularly consuming high-protein breakfasts improves body weight management in young people.

More information: The article, "Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, 'breakfast skipping,' late-adolescent girls," was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Brain scans suggest downside to skipping breakfast

Oct 17, 2012

(HealthDay)—People who skip breakfast may end up eating more and making less healthy food choices throughout the day, according to a new study. Eating breakfast, on the other hand, helps people avoid overeating ...

Researcher develops power-packed soy breakfast cereal

Mar 06, 2008

Breakfast of champions? That would be a soy protein-packed, low-fat, high-fiber cereal that meets the requirements for three different FDA health claims and leaves you feeling full so you won’t be tempted to eat again until ...

Recommended for you

Stress markers in the unemployed linked to poor health

53 minutes ago

Research from the ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies at UCL suggests direct biological effects of stress during unemployment may help explain the increased mortality and morbidity among jobseekers. The study ...

Vaccine skeptics aren't swayed by emotional scare tactics

2 hours ago

On the heels of a nationwide measles outbreak comes a report that campaigns aimed at scaring people about the consequences of non-vaccination might not be as effective as many think. An upcoming article in the journal Communication Re ...

Meal deliveries benefit seniors, report says

3 hours ago

Kali Thomas, assistant professor (research) of health services, policy, and practice, has shown that meal deliveries can help seniors stay in their homes and save some states money, but in a new report she ...

US dietary guidelines focus on curtailing sugar

4 hours ago

The latest word from an advisory panel that helps form U.S. dietary guidelines confirms what nutritionists have been saying in recent years: Cholesterol-rich foods like eggs and shrimp aren't as bad for us ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ROBTHEGOB
1 / 5 (1) Mar 27, 2013
Why does the yogurt have to be "Greek"?
grainnemurphy
not rated yet Apr 02, 2013
Why does the yogurt have to be "Greek"?


It has twice the protein of regular

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.