We’ve all heard it our entire lives: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And this ancient bromide has been proven again and again in scientific trials. But still, 60 percent of American youths skip breakfast regularly. The argument for breakfast continues to gain footing, however. Among the many reasons that breakfast is so important is that it helps set the dietary mood for the rest of your day.
When you first wake up, chances are good that you’ve been fasting for about 10 hours. So if you skip breakfast, you’re increasing your temptation when it comes to just grabbing the first meal that comes along later. A new study shows that this benefit of breakfast can even extend to the end of the day.
During the course of the study, 20 overweight or obese women aged 18 to 20 were given either a high-protein breakfast providing 35 grams of protein, a normal-protein breakfast consisting of ready-to-eat cereal or no breakfast at all. All three of the breakfast groups contained 350 calories.
Throughout the day, the participants completed questionnaires and gave blood samples. Right before dinner, a brain scan was used to track brain signals related to control food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior.
The group who ate the high-protein breakfast had fewer food cravings throughout the day and the brain scan showed that their appetite was reduced. High-fat, sugary snacking in the evening was also reduced.
Put It Into Practice
It’s all well and good that this works in a laboratory but using that information in the real-world is a different issue. So how can you make this study work for you?
The high-protein breakfast used in the study was made up of eggs and lean beef but you can get that protein from several other sources. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are also great sources of protein that require little-to-no preparation. Since most people skip breakfast because of time constraints in the morning, grab-and-go options are valuable things.
If you generally skip breakfast, though, you might be hesitant to start eating a substantial meal first thing in the morning. For some it may be that you pass on breakfast in an effort to lose weight, others simply find that their stomachs are uneasy in the mornings.
For those seeking to lose weight, the extra intake may actually be exactly what you need. Long periods of fasting slow your metabolism, cause your body to burn muscle for fuel and store excess fat. None of those biological habits are helpful for losing weight. As shown in the study, a protein-rich breakfast can also help you to eat better throughout the day to build better eating habits.
People who just have a difficult time stomaching a meal early in the morning, may just need to put it up with it for a few days. Don’t worry though, it should only take about three days for your body to adjust.
Have you benefited from a healthy, protein-rich breakfast? Please share your experiences in the comments!