There’s a reason bacon and eggs have been a breakfast staple for ages – a protein-rich breakfast does wonders to keep one’s body satisfied longer. But did you know that a healthy, protein-packed breakfast will also curb your cravings and reward-driven eating behavior?
According to Heather Leidy, an assistant professor in University of Missouri’s Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, lots of protein in the morning reduces the brain signals that control food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior. She reached this conclusion after studying breakfast-skipping teens for three weeks. One group continued to skip breakfast or ate 500-calorie breakfasts of cereal and milk while the other group ate high-protein meals of Belgium waffles, syrup and yogurt.
Immediately before lunch, researchers used fMRI technology to study participants’ brain activation responses. Results showed that while both meals led to increased fullness and reduced hunger throughout the morning, the breakfast with more protein led to even greater changes in fullness, appetite, and reward-driven eating behavior.
Here are some ways to be a better breakfaster:
- Be handy – If weight loss is a priority for you, don’t leave the house empty-handed in the mornings. Keep portable protein-rich foods on hand. Hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and string cheese are great to grab and go, either for an immediate breakfast or a healthy mid-morning snack.
- Cook quickly – If you can spend a few more minutes in the kitchen, shoot for a slice of toast with peanut (or almond) butter, a quick scrambled egg, or a smoothie with protein powder. One of my quick favorites is to warm a whole-wheat tortilla, spread it with almond butter and cinnamon (which is proven to help your body process sugar), and then wrap it around a banana.
- Order wisely – If the drive-thru still calls your name, be sure you order the right item. Egg McMuffins are surprisingly diet-approved – they’re only 350 calories each and are packed with protein. Go for an egg burrito over anything starchy like French toast sticks, and if you have the willpower, skip the hash browns.