More on protein for breakfast

Synchronicity is an interesting thing.  The International Journal of Obesity has an article in the Ahead of Publication section of its online journal showing that replacing bagels with eggs for breakfast increases weight loss, which article I wrote about in my last post.  Now comes the British Journal of Nutrition, and in its Ahead of Publication section of this month’s online journal there is an article titled: Increased dietary protein consumed at breakfast leads to an initial and sustained feeling of fullness during energy restriction compared to other meal times.

The authors of this paper present data that adds to the idea that consuming protein for breakfast as part of a calorically-restricted diet leads to decreased hunger and food intake during the remainder of the day.  And this particular paper even adds to the data showing that even minimal decreases of carbohydrate intake along with a little extra protein bring about good things.

Here is how the study was done (and I’m sorry because it is difficult to follow – I had to diagram it to figure out what was going on.  If you don’t want to drive yourself crazy going through all the individual diets, just skip down to the last couple of paragraphs and read the conclusions).

All subjects had their caloric or energy requirements calculated as being 1.5 times their resting metabolic rates (RMR) as determined by the Harris-Benedict equation, the most commonly used equation for calculating RMR.  Once these energy requirements were determined subjects were started on one of a number of dietary variations.

The two basic diet variations were a normal protein, energy-balanced diet (NP-EB) and a high-protein, energy-balanced diet (HP-EB).   These two energy-balanced diets provided the total number of calories as calculated to meet the energy requirements of the individual subjects.  The macronutrient breakdown by percentages of total energy for the NP-EB was (protein/carb/fat) 11/64/25.  That of the HP-EB: 18/57/25.

Then there were two energy restricted diets (ER).  A high-protein, energy-restricted diet (HP-ER) and a normal-protein, energy-restricted diet (NP-ER). Both diets contained 750 fewer kcal than the EB diets.  These ER diets contained the following macronutrient percentages:

NP-ER 14/61/25 and the HP-ER 25/50/25

Now, as if this weren’t complicated enough, the HP diets had the protein content changed so that a substantial portion of it was during the breakfast meal in one trial, in the lunch meal  in another, and in dinner in yet another.  All subjects all followed all these diet variations for 6 days each.

Without getting into all the data, which are even more difficult to keep straight than the diets themselves, the results showed pretty much the same thing that the egg/bagel breakfast study showed.  If people are not trying to restrict calories and are on high-carb diets, it doesn’t make any difference when most of the protein is consumed.  But if people are cutting calories while trying to lose weight, it does make a difference.  This study like the egg/bagel study shows that loading the protein to the breakfast meal reduces hunger throughout the day.

So, once again, if you have friends or loved ones who won’t hop on the low-carb bandwagon with you and decide instead to cut fat and calories while keeping carbs high, you can give them a little nudge in the right direction by at least getting them to eat their protein for breakfast.

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6 thoughts on “More on protein for breakfast

  1. Thanks Mike! Remember when you wrote in PPLP about that study where people eat either protein rich meals or ‘standard’ meals without restricting calories? Those eating protein-rich meals eat less than those eating ‘standard’ meals without forcing themselves to eat less… Back then, I found similar studies, mainly by Margriet Westertep-Plantega suggesting the benefits of eating more protein both to reduce total food intake voluntarily (aka more and longer satiety), as well as fat-free weight way after weight loss when protein in the diet was increase.

    So, somehow, these studies don’t strike me as surprising. What surprises me is that they’re coming out just now, when you wrote about it some 8 years ago! I guess when you’re right, you’re right! Though I never think of your books as ‘soft media’ because they’re backed up with references that we can all read and judge by ourselves, I’m glad these studies are coming up in the scientific media… if that’s what it takes for people to actually consider the benefits of eating more protein, even if carbohydrate restriction is moderate at best.

    By the way… I’m getting a constant ‘spam detected’ message when I hit ‘submit comment’. I’m using the same name and address as I’ve been using for a while now… Any ideas?

    I’m clueless Gabe as to why you’re getting the ‘spam detected’ message when you hit ‘submit comment.’ I just upgraded to the latest version of WordPress. It probably has something to do with that.

    Best–

    Mike

  2. Mike, it beats me too… I happens only once or twice and I finally manage to submit only after I refresh the page… It’s fine as long as I’m able to submit posts, no worries.

    On a different note, I wonder if you’ve seen a recent article that compared commercial diets (Slim Fast Plan, Weight Watchers Pure Points Program, Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, or Rosemary Conley’s “Eat Yourself Slim” Diet & Fitness Plan), concluding that all of the tested ‘diets’ provide the necessary nutrients, and that the diets all resulted in considerable macronutrient change and an energy deficit which to them, indicated dietary compliance. The take home message for health professionals and those working in community and public health was that they should be reassured of the nutritional adequacy of the those diets.

    The title of the article is: “Commercial weight loss diets meet nutrient requirements in free living adults over 8 weeks: A randomized controlled weight loss trial” (Nutrition Journal, 2008 7:25). It might not be blog-worthy but I thought I’d mention it.

    Cheers,

    Hey Gabe–

    Thanks for the reference. I hadn’t seen this. I’ll pull it and look it over.

    Best–

    Mike

  3. Hi Dr Mike,

    Should a person break~fast in the AM, even if they’re not hungry at that time? I’m kind of struggling with the idea that maybe I should resume eating a morning breakfast, even though I haven’t for well over a year now. It just got to the point where I wasn’t hungry, and I was turned off by the idea of forcing myself to eat when I didn’t want food. Hunger appears around noon for me. I love big meals, so I’ve never had any trouble taking in sufficient calories at lunch and dinner to make up for the lack of breakfast. However, I’m having trouble staying on plan lately, and I’m thinking that if I “force myself” to eat a protein-rich morning breakfast, it might help me stay on plan before things get farther out of hand.

    So what do you think? Is it better for health for a person to breakfast in the AM, even if they’re not hungry for it?

    Thank you,
    Elle

    If you’re having trouble staying on plan, why not give it a try to see what happens. Try eating a hardboiled egg or two in the morning and see if it affects your hunger and overall food intake throughout the day. Once you’ve got that data, then you can apply it.

    If you’re not hungry in the morning, and you eat a protein meal at lunch, and everything is going fine otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it.

  4. Is there an upper limit on protein at breakfast for men? Are three eggs better than two, and vice versa? I’m 54 y/o, 6 feet 5 inches and about 290 lbs. Should any other nutrient be eaten with the protein meal? Thanks.

    I don’t think there is an upper limit. The upper limit is pretty much designated by how much you can eat, and most people can’t eat a whole lot of protein and fat (unless they include carb – then all bets are off).

    I usually eat three eggs for breakfast when I have eggs, which is several times per week. And I’m only 6′ 2″ and weight only 190 lbs.

  5. Hi! It’s been a few nights and I have another question 🙂 Actually, I have questions all day, can I just text you all day? J/K!
    I came across some old Protein Power threads on some low carbing boards, anyway, some mentioned 25 grams of fiber everyday. I don’t know how I missed this, but wondered if it’s still something you advise. Will it make me lose more? I have no clue how much fiber I’m getting.

    I wrote that before I had my brain transplant about fiber. I don’t think it much matters how much one gets, and too much might actually be harmful. Here’s a post for you to read on the subject.

  6. Dear Doc,

    Any problem supplementing protein intake with whey (Hydraflow XP3)? I’m trying to improve muscle density and growth Is there a chance of weight gain in fat with such a supplement? Other supplements I use are CoQ-10, T-40 containing 40% Protodiocin and L-Glutamine Powder.

    I eat little carbohydrate and have reaped benefit from avoiding it via Atkins and your book Protein Power. I do cheat from time to time but I train pretty hard.

    I don’t see a problem in such supplementation.