Rise, Shine and Eat Protein

New research underlines the need to eat breakfast, particularly one rich in protein.

There’s new evidence that dieters should join the breakfast club—especially if it includes a lot of protein.

Skipping breakfast has long been associated with excess body weight, although scientists haven’t established a causal link. Now researchers at the University of Missouri are reporting that eating a high-protein breakfast is particularly effective at reducing food cravings and boosting dopamine, a brain chemical usually associated with feelings of reward. The study was a small one, but if the findings hold up they imply that a breakfast rich in protein may aid in weight control.

To investigate the role of breakfast protein in dopamine production, the scientists recruited 16 overweight or obese female volunteers, all of them about 19 years old and regular breakfast-skippers. During every other week, participants were randomly assigned to one of three breakfast patterns: none, normal or high-protein. Both breakfasts had 350 calories, but the “normal” breakfast had 13 grams of protein, while the “high” version had 35. By comparison, a large egg has six grams.

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The researchers provided breakfasts to make sure the volunteers were eating what they were supposed to. Between each week “on,” test subjects had a week to resume their normal lives.

After each participation week, the volunteers were surveyed about their food cravings and tested for dopamine markers. Heather Leidy, one of the scientists, said that, compared with the normal breakfast, “the high-protein meal led to a 34-fold reduction in cravings for high fat foods and a 15-fold increase in dopamine.” The high-protein effect was even greater compared with no breakfast.

Dr. Leidy and colleagues reported in an earlier paper that a high-protein breakfast led to reductions in unhealthy evening snacking. She also noted that, in the past 50 years, breakfast-eating in this country has fallen even as obesity has increased.

SWY Comment:  Of course breakfast is important.  All of our mothers knew this and tried to tell us…but we just didn’t listen.  :-)

The complete publication is available here.  The authors did not detail what precisely these subjects ate but the bottom line is that the more protein you get at breakfast, the better.

“A Randomized Crossover, Pilot Study Examining the Effects of a Normal Protein vs. High Protein Breakfast on Food Cravings and Reward Signals in Overweight/obese ‘Breakfast Skipping’ Late-Adolescent Girls,” Heather A. Hoertel, Matthew J. Will and Heather J. Leidy, Nutrition Journal (August)

Adapted from an article by: Daniel Akst, The Wall Street Journal
Reviewed / Posted by: Scott W Yates, MD, MBA, MS, FACP

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