Evidence from previous studies have shown that about 60% of young people skip breakfast up to four times per week. Health professionals recommend that eating breakfast is a strategy for reducing the likelihood of obesity, however it remains unclear what type of breakfast plays a role in weight management and health.
In a recent study, a team of researchers from the University of Missouri led by Heather Leidy, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the MU School of Medicine compared the benefits between a normal and a high-protein breakfast, with results showing that young people who consumed the high-protein breakfast were prevented from gaining body fat, reducing daily food intake and feelings of hunger. The results also showed a stabilization in the levels of glucose among overweight young people who would normally skip breakfast.
According to Leidy, for a person to eat 35 grams of protein, they need to consume a combination of high-quality proteins such as eggs, Greek yogurt, milk, and lean meats.
“This study examined if the type of breakfast consumed can improve weight management in young people who habitually skip breakfast,” said Leidy. “Generally, people establish eating behaviors during their teen years. If teens are able to develop good eating habits now, such as eating breakfast, it’s likely to continue the rest of their lives.”
For the study, the research team fed two groups of overweight young people. All participants reported not eating their breakfast five to seven times a week. The breakfast in the study included either high or normal protein breakfast meals. The researchers also examined a third group of young people who continued to skip breakfast for a period of 12 weeks.
“The group of teens who ate high-protein breakfasts reduced their daily food intake by 400 calories and lost body fat mass, while the groups who ate normal-protein breakfast or continued to skip breakfast gained additional body fat,” Leidy said. “These results show that when individuals eat a high-protein breakfast, they voluntarily consume less food the rest of the day. In addition, teens who ate high-protein breakfast had more stable glucose levels than the other groups.”
According to Leidy, large fluctuations in the levels of glucose are related with Type 2 diabetes risk in young people.
The normal-protein breakfast meal that the researchers used to feed the young people included cereals and milk (containing 13 grams of protein). The high-protein breakfast meals included dairy, eggs, and lean pork (containing 35 grams of protein).
All study participants were asked to report feelings of hunger and daily food and beverage intakes. The researchers measured at baseline and after 13 weeks all of the participants’ body weight and composition. All participants were asked to wear a device that assessed minute-to-minute levels of glucose throughout the day.
Use the device and the data collected from the study confirmed that consuming a high-protein breakfast prevented gains of body fat, reduced daily food intake and feelings of hunger, and stabilized glucose levels among overweight teens who would normally skip breakfast.