A study out of University of Missouri, done by Heather Leidy, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, recently found that when women consumed high-protein breakfasts, they maintained better glucose and insulin control than they did with lower-protein or no-protein meals.
Why is this important? Ultimately they found that eating more protein in the morning led to increased fullness or satiety along with reductions in brain activity that is responsible for controlling food cravings. The protein powered breakfast also reduced evening snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods compared to when breakfast was skipped or when a normal protein, ready-to-eat cereal breakfast was consumed.
Eating a protein-rich breakfast impacts the drive to eat later in the day, when people are more likely to consume high-fat or high-sugar snacks, Leidy said. These data suggest that eating a protein-rich breakfast is one potential strategy to prevent overeating and improve diet quality by replacing unhealthy snacks with high quality breakfast foods.
Even though this particular study was done on women, men no doubt could likely benefit too.
Many of us pack in the carbs at breakfast but forget about the protein, or skip breakfast all together. Breakfast truly is one of the most important meals of the whole day and can be super quick and easy to prepare. Getting a good balance of protein along with your healthy carbs at breakfast can help you feel fuller longer and set you up to eat better and avoid cravings throughout the day. Here are some great healthy options to try.
- Toast with nut butter: Two slices of whole-wheat bread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on each, topped with sliced banana. One cup of skim milk to drink. Total: 22 grams of protein.
- Strawberry smoothie: Blend together 1/2 cup of strawberries, 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup of uncooked oatmeal, a drizzle of honey and 1/2 cup of skim milk or soy milk. Total: 21 grams of protein.
- Mediterranean sandwich: Whole-wheat pita with 4 tablespoons hummus, tomato slices, 1 oz. of goat cheese and 1/4 cup of sliced almonds. Add a café latte to drink made with 1/2 cup of steamed skim milk. Total: 22 grams of protein.
- Melon bowl: Half of a cantaloupe (using the center as a bowl), filled with 1 cup of 2 % cottage cheese. Total: 23 grams of protein.
- Breakfast burrito: Whole-wheat tortilla filled with two scrambled eggs, sautéed onions, a handful of spinach, 1/4 cup of black beans and pico de gallo. Total: 28 grams of protein.
- Blueberry yogurt parfait: Divide and layer 1 5oz. container vanilla greek yogurt, 1/2 cup Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey Protein Crunchy Granola, 1/2 cup blueberries. Total: 23 grams protein
- Apple walnut oatmeal: Cook 3/4 cups of dry oatmeal with 1 and 1/4 cup of skim milk, and add 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, plus 1 chopped apple. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey. Total: 24 grams of protein.
- Banana on the run: 1 small banana along with 3/4 cup 2 % cottage cheese and 1 Tablespoon almonds. Total: 27 grams of protein.
Do an experiment on yourself. Commit to choosing 1 or 2 of these to try this week and observe how it effects how you feel the rest of the day.