The power of protein in your morning meal

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Have you ever heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”?

While this might sound like old advice without much science behind it, recent research from Denmark is shining new light on the truth of this statement, especially when it comes to what we eat for breakfast.

In a study focusing on 30 obese women aged between 18 and 30, researchers explored how different types of breakfasts—specifically protein-rich, carbohydrate-rich, and no breakfast at all—impact feelings of fullness, hormone levels, energy consumption at lunch, total daily energy intake, and concentration.

The findings? Eating a breakfast rich in protein, like skyr (a type of sour milk) mixed with oats, not only made participants feel fuller but also helped them concentrate better.

Surprisingly, though, it didn’t lead to eating less throughout the day compared to when they skipped breakfast or had a carb-heavy start.

Mette Hansen, an associate professor and Ph.D. at the Department of Public Health, and a leading figure in the study, pointed out that this discovery adds a new dimension to the battle against obesity—a growing problem not just in Denmark but globally.

Given that obesity often paves the way for lifestyle-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, the role of breakfast becomes even more critical.

Previous studies have suggested that those who make time for breakfast tend to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than those who don’t.

And it’s been well-documented that proteins tend to keep us feeling full longer than carbohydrates or fats do, calorie for calorie.

So, the team wanted to see if a protein-packed breakfast could be a secret weapon for feeling satisfied throughout the day, potentially helping to reduce overall calorie intake.

However, the solution isn’t as straightforward as just adding more protein to your morning routine. “The results confirm that protein-rich meals can make us feel fuller, which is great for preventing weight gain. But just having a protein-rich breakfast isn’t enough,” Hansen explains.

What makes this study interesting is how it highlights the difference in satiety between meals with the same calorie content but different nutritional makeup.

The participants found it more challenging to finish the protein-rich breakfast than a simpler bread and jam meal, suggesting that if given the choice, they might end up consuming more calories with the latter option due to its lower satiety effect.

Despite these insights, Hansen notes the study’s limitations, such as its focus on only overweight young women and its short duration.

These factors leave unanswered questions about the long-term impact of dietary changes on health and weight.

Looking ahead, Hansen mentions ongoing research comparing high-protein and low-protein breakfasts and their effects on body composition, microbiota, and cholesterol levels. These studies could pave the way for more nuanced dietary guidelines tailored to individual needs.

Published in the Journal of Dairy Science, this study not only reiterates the importance of breakfast but also encourages us to think more carefully about what we’re eating in the morning.

As we learn more, the hope is that we can develop dietary recommendations that are not just about eating or skipping breakfast but about choosing the right foods to fuel our bodies and minds.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about foods that could improve survival in Parkinson’s disease, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about plant nutrient that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

The research findings can be found in the Journal of Dairy Science.

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