Protein-rich breakfasts help prevent unhealthy snacking later on, according to US researchers.
Beef before 9am each day might seem like extreme breakfasting but according to new research eating exactly this kind of protein early in the day helps prevent snacking on high-fat and high-calorie foods in the evening.
Researchers from the department of nutrition and exercise physiology, University of Missouri, USA, studied 20 overweight or obese female study participants who either missed out breakfast altogether, had a normal-protein breakfast of cereal and milk, or a high-protein breakfast with eggs and lean beef.
All the breakfasts were the same in terms of calories (350), and fat, fibre, and sugar. Only the protein quantity was different with the high-protein breakfast packing 35 grams. A bowl of cereal with milk contains around 10g.
Blood samples were taken throughout the day and participants were asked questions about their appetites throughout the day too. There was also one brain scan done, just before dinner, to check for brain activity relating to reward-driven eating behaviour.
Those who had had the high-protein breakfast showed better satiety and also displayed less brain activity relating to food cravings. This group of women also snacked less on high-fat or high-calorie foods – compared to both of the other groups.
So the researchers say the data suggests that, while eating breakfast is always beneficial, eating a protein-rich breakfast is best for preventing food cravings later in the day. This would potentially make it easier to stick to a diet too.
Not sure how to add protein to your breakfast? The study participants had burritos, or egg-based waffles with apple sauce and a beef sausage patty.
The researchers say you could also try adding plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or ground pork loin to your breakfast. Salmon with eggs is a delicious and protein-rich way to start your day, and you can always add a spoonful of baked beans to your toast.
Finally, you could just breakfast European style with ham, salami and cheese on bread. We’re sorry to say, though, that bacon won’t cut it – most varieties contain more fat than protein.