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Jump-start weight loss with a protein-packed breakfast

Published by Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD on Aug 13, 2023

Adding more protein to your diet is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. And the best time to begin starts in the morning by eating breakfast. 

 

Starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast can be an effective strategy if you’re looking to lose weight. Research has demonstrated that a high-protein breakfast can assist in achieving weight loss objectives and preventing weight gain in both teenagers and adults.

Often touted as “the most important meal of the day,” breakfast is already well-known for improving concentration, memory, and energy levels. A high-protein breakfast’s effectiveness for weight loss is becoming increasingly apparent. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that a high-protein breakfast can be valuable for weight loss, particularly in teenagers.  So, what defines how much protein should be in a high-protein breakfast?   The magic number(s) appear to be 25-35 grams.  Unfortunately, the average American consumes far short of that, with approximately only 10 to 15 grams at breakfast, with the protein source often coming from high-sugar breakfast cereals.

Skipping breakfast is directly linked to weight gain, higher BMI, and obesity. It is imperative to acknowledge the significance of a balanced breakfast and not overlook its impact on overall health and wellness. Therefore, it is highly recommended to make sure that breakfast is an essential part of our daily routine.

Why increased protein can lead to weight loss

There are three primary reasons why a high-protein breakfast of 25-35 grams of protein promotes weight loss:

  1. It leads to a decreased appetite and increased feeling of satiety. That extra protein helps target appetite control by reducing the hunger hormone ghrelin while increasing the gut hormone peptide YY, helping you feel fuller longer.

 

  1. Eating a high-protein packed breakfast reduces areas in the brain that stimulate food motivation/reward when you either consume a low-protein breakfast or skip breakfast altogether.

 

  1. High-protein breakfasts improve the quality of the diet by replacing unhealthy evening snacking with obtaining nutrient-rich foods at breakfast.

Best high-protein foods from animal and plant sources

Choosing high-quality protein sources is critical to preventing or reducing weight gain. High-quality protein refers to proteins that provide all nine essential amino acids in proportion to the human body’s needs.  The best high-quality, high-protein sources to choose from include:

  • Eggs
  • Lean beef, chicken, turkey, lean pork
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Tofu or other soy products
  • Whey protein

Other healthy protein-rich foods that do not provide all nine essential amino acids, but are still good protein sources include nuts, beans, lentils, and whole grains such as oatmeal, barley, farro, quinoa, and buckwheat.

Nutritious, high-protein breakfast ideas

Consuming a breakfast composed mainly of carbohydrates with minimal protein can lead to spikes in blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry. However, when eaten in combination with carbohydrates, protein slows down the absorption of sugar from your stomach into your bloodstream.  This can help keep blood sugar levels low, which prevents additional food cravings.

Consuming protein and carbohydrates is helpful to manage blood sugar levels and prevent food cravings. Protein slows the absorption of sugar from your stomach into your bloodstream. If your goal is to lose or prevent weight gain, it’s essential to begin your day with nutritious breakfast choices high in protein. Here are some ideas:

Egg Scramble (26g of protein)
Scramble one whole egg and two egg whites and cook. Place on a slice of 100% whole wheat bread and top with 1-ounce light Swiss cheese and two tablespoons of avocado.

Greek Yogurt Parfait (26g of protein)
Top 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with four tablespoons of almonds and 1 cup of fresh blueberries

Cottage Cheese Bowl (30 g of protein)

Fill a bowl with one cup of cottage cheese, add in one-half cup of beans, and top with tomatoes, paprika, and pepper.

High Protein Shake (25-30 g of protein)

Blend one scoop of whey protein, one-half cup of vanilla Greek yogurt, one cup of frozen berries, and one cup of low-fat milk.

For more ideas on how to pack in protein to the start of your day, here are some healthy breakfast recipes, each containing approximately 30 grams of protein: High-Protein Breakfast Tacos; Nut and Berry parfait; and Broccoli-Parmesan Omelet.

 

Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City; an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, KS where she teaches Basic Nutrition; and is a freelance writer and blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi, Urologic Oncologist Expert and World Renowned Robotic Surgeon in New York City. Cheryl is also the author of The Nourished Brain, The Latest Science on Food’s Power for Protecting the Brain from Alzheimers and Dementia and The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook, both available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions.

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