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New Study Reveals Higher Protein Breakfast May Help Dieters Stay on Track
Research findings reveal eating more protein in the morning helps dieters
retain fullness throughout the day.
A new study published online today in the British Journal of Nutrition found that timing of dietary
protein intake affects feelings of fullness throughout the day. The study
concluded that when people ate high-quality protein foods, from sources
such as eggs and lean Canadian bacon, for breakfast they had a greater
sense of sustained fullness throughout the day compared to when more
protein was eaten at lunch or dinner (i).
"There is a growing body of research which supports eating high-quality
protein foods when dieting to maintain a sense of fullness," said Wayne W.
Campbell, PhD, study author and professor of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue
University. "This study is particularly unique in that it looked at the
timing of protein intake and reveals that when you consume more protein may
be a critical piece of the equation."
A Closer Look at the Study
The study included overweight or obese men who ate a reduced calorie
diet. The diet consisted of two variations of protein intakes, both which
were within federal nutrition recommendations: normal protein intake (11-14
percent of calories) or increased protein (18-25 percent of calories). The
researchers tested the effect of consuming the additional protein at
specific meals — breakfast, lunch or dinner — or spaced evenly throughout
Purdue researchers found that the feeling of fullness was greatest and
most sustained throughout the day when the additional protein, from eggs
and lean Canadian bacon, was eaten at breakfast — versus lunch or dinner.
This study adds to a growing body of research on the benefits of eating
high-quality protein for weight management. Recent research provides
further evidence to support the findings of this study:
— A study published online last month in the International Journal of
Obesity found that eating two eggs for breakfast, as part of a
reduced-calorie diet, helped overweight adults lose more weight and feel
more energetic than those who ate a bagel breakfast of equal calories (ii).
— A Purdue University study published in a 2007 issue of Obesity, a
scientific journal, revealed that a calorie-restricted diet with additional
protein resulted in retained post-meal feelings of fullness and improved
overall mood. The same study also found that a higher level of protein
intake was more effective in maintaining lean body mass during weight loss
Making the Most of Breakfast
The authors of the British Journal of Nutrition study note that most
Americans typically consume a relatively small amount of protein at
breakfast — only about 15 percent of their total daily protein intake.
Additionally, consumer research by the International Food Information
Council shows that 92 percent of Americans cite breakfast as the most
important meal of the day, however less than half (46 percent) eat
breakfast seven days per week (iv).
"It strikes me that there is a real opportunity to increase protein
intake at breakfast to see a meaningful impact on people’s weight loss
efforts," said Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, FADA, a nutritionist and associate
professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Many
people are caught in a boring breakfast rut, or say they simply don’t have
enough time to eat in the morning, but with a little planning, breakfast
can easily be one of the most fulfilling meals of the day."
Ayoob provides the following tips for easy, high-quality protein based
— Cook Once, Eat Twice: Use last night’s leftover vegetables as
fillings for an easy-to-prepare omelet ready to eat in less than two
minutes. In addition to the leftovers, fill the omelet with lean Canadian
bacon and low-fat cheese for additional flavor and protein punch.
— Wake Up Right: Start the day off right with a balanced breakfast
that pairs high-quality protein, like yogurt or low-fat dairy, with healthy
carbohydrates, such as those found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
— On The Go: For a breakfast meal you can take with you in the
morning, try a wrap! Add lean Canadian bacon and low-fat cheese and any
other preferred toppings to scrambled eggs, and then spoon into a warm
whole wheat tortilla. Fold the tortilla, cut it in half and take it to go.
— Family Fun: Make breakfast fun for the whole family by serving up
creative dishes, like green eggs and ham. Simply add spinach to scrambled
eggs and serve with ham for a fun and easy dish that the whole family can
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