What Are the Benefits of a High-Protein Breakfast?

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Woman beating eggs for breakfast prepartion. (Image: JGI/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Its ability to keep you feeling fuller longer and eat less throughout the day really does make breakfast the most important meal of the day. However, if your breakfast options include high-sugar cereals or high-calorie, oversize bagels, it’s important to incorporate lean protein sources into your breakfast. Not only do these enhance your breakfast options, they also help you feel fuller, longer.

Increased Satiety

Heather Leidy, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, conducted an experiment on the benefits of a high-protein diet, as detailed in the Winter 2011 “Mizzou” magazine. Leidy studied hunger sensations in those who ate a high-protein breakfast at 35 to 40 g of protein compared to those who ate 18 g of protein per meal. She found those who ate a high-protein breakfast reported feeling less hungry later in the day than those who did not. From these results, Leidy theorized that high-protein meals release ghrelin, a hunger hormone that increases your feelings of satiety and fullness.

Better Food Choices

If you feel fuller as a result of eating breakfast, you are more likely to make healthier food choices throughout the day. Those who do not eat breakfast have been found to refrain from eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day, which can lead to weight gain and lack of nutrients in the diet. When you consume high-protein sources, you also take in other nutrients like iron, vitamin C, calcium and fiber, depending upon what type of protein source you eat.

Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease

When you consume a high-protein breakfast, you help fuel your metabolism. This allows you to burn more calories throughout the day. Those who do not consume breakfast at all risk becoming increasingly resistant to insulin. Insulin is needed to help your body use glucose to provide energy for basic activities. Insulin resistance is associated with increased risk for diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to serious complications and is associated with heart disease and high blood pressure.

Warning

While a high-protein breakfast offers a number of health benefits, it is important to choose high-protein options that do not contain excess fat. High-protein sources like red meat and full-fat cheeses can be high in saturated fats that can outweigh the benefits of satiety throughout the day. Instead, opt for lean protein choices like egg whites, lean ground beef, skim milk, protein powder or low-fat yogurt. Lean protein food selections offer the benefits of a high-protein breakfast, without harmful effects like weight gain or increased cholesterol level that can stem from eating high-fat protein sources.

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