A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that a breakfast rich in protein can help to prevent unhealthy snacking in the evening.
Lead researcher Heather Leidy said that protein in the morning significantly improves appetite control throughout the day and particularly in the evening when many snack on high fat or sugary foods. This study is one of the first to assess how breakfast affects both appetite and evening snacking in young people who usually skip breakfast.
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Three Scientific Study Groups
During the study overweight women were split into three groups; no breakfast, a breakfast of eggs and lean beef or a typical breakfast of ‘ready to eat’ cereal. Each meal delivered 350 calories and the same amount of dietary fat, fibre and sugar.
Participant blood samples were taken throughout the day and each woman completed a series of questionnaires. Each participant also underwent a functional MRI just before dinner to assess brain signals related to food motivation and reward driven eating behaviour.
The study showed that a breakfast of eggs and lean beef had a significant impact on satiety throughout the day as well as reducing brain activity responsible for food cravings. The result of which led to reduced evening consumption of high fat and high sugar snacks.
“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.”
While it may be difficult initially to switch to a high protein breakfast, Leidy suggests trying plain greek yoghurt, cottage cheese or a handful of nuts as good alternatives to reaching the recommended 35 grams of protein.
This study builds on a previous 2011 paper published in the journal Obesity which found that a protein rich breakfast can help to control food cravings during the day.
A high protein breakfast will also help to maximise the muscle building potential early morning training sessions according to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
6 Ideas for a Protein Packed Breakfast
Peanut Butter Banana Sandwich – 10 grams of protein
Whole Wheat Waffle with Maple Yogurt – 13 grams of protein
Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal – 21 grams of protein
Honey Nut Parfait – 16 grams of protein
Veggie Fritatta – 21 grams of protein
Good old fashioned Bacon and Egg Sandwich – 30 grams of protein