How many times have we heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? And how many times do we STILL grab a travel-sized package out of the cupboard to inhale on our way out the door? Or worse yet, skip breakfast altogether?! Chances are the answer to all of the above is, “a lot”. I know what you’re thinking, “here comes the lecture”, but au contraire, I’m not here to judge. We’ve all been there. I’ve often wondered, however, why such a crucial ingredient to our daily health and overall wellness is so often and casually overlooked. There are the usual culprits; an “on the go” lifestyle, or you simply hit snooze one too many times. Those can be tough obstacles to overcome but a recent study found that there is a secret to making breakfast even healthier and may help you drop a few pounds without any extra effort (and that’s the important part, right?!) Here’s a little motivation for you.
Researchers from the University of Missouri confirmed what we’ve been saying all along and they published their findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Subjects in the study ate a low protein (13 grams), cereal-based breakfast, an egg and beef breakfast with high protein (35 grams), or nothing at all. The two breakfasts had the same amount of calories, fat, fiber and sugar. Protein was the only difference. At the end of the study, both groups who ate breakfast experienced less hunger throughout the day. No surprise there. The people who consumed the high protein meal had less food cravings, felt more full, and their MRIs showed a reduction of activity in the area of the brain responsible for triggering cravings. Intriguing, but still not terribly surprising. Now comes the fun stuff. The protein eaters cut back on high-fat and high-sugar evening snacks. Wouldn’t that be nice? They were able to control their eating habits the entire day AND into the night, all because of the protein they ate in the morning. Again, it was just an egg and beef-based breakfast. Simple, nutritious, and effective.
Another study from the University of Connecticut also found a link between a protein breakfast and satiety. Researchers gave 21 men a protein-rich egg breakfast, or a carbohydrate-rich bagel breakfast. Three hours after eating breakfast the men were allowed to eat all they wanted at a lunch buffet. The men who ate the egg breakfast ate 112 fewer calories at the buffet. The protein-rich eggs they had at breakfast also helped the men eat a whopping 400 less calories throughout the day!
Here’s what I want you to take away from this. Eating breakfast is important regardless of you trying to lose weight or not, but not just any breakfast, a protein-based one. It increases your energy, stabilizes blood sugar, and prevents snacking and overeating. When you wake up in the morning your body is recovering from eight hours of fasting. By starting your day with protein you prevent your body from using muscle tissue for fuel. If you don’t eat breakfast, there’s still good news. It only takes a few days for the body to adjust to eating early in the morning. Start off slowly – maybe an egg, then add in a beef sausage. Nothing too heavy at first. As you get used to eating in the morning, up your protein to around 30 grams. Experiment with a variety of protein-rich foods so you don’t get bored.
Here is a recipe for one of my favorite breakfasts that fits the protein rich model.
- Scramble 2-3 eggs in coconut oil
- Add spinach and diced tomatoes to taste – I like grape tomatoes
- Half an avocado and half of a large orange.
This was actually my breakfast this morning…everything was out on the counter so I might as well finish the job, right? It was delicious, full of protein and good fats, and took me 10 minutes to make.
If you want to learn more about my philosophy on food, I highly recommend the Whole30 Program from the book, It Starts With Food. It will change the way you think about food. It will change your tastes, your habits, and your cravings because it focuses on eating real, unprocessed food – meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds.