Promote Weight Loss with Protein in the A.M.

By Dr. Deedra Rae Mason, Director of Clinical Education & Research

Clinical reports, both research-based and patient focused continue to support the importance of protein in the morning over the consumption of carbohydrates, which was previously recommended. “Eating a high-protein breakfast sustains fullness even to the evening hours,” says Heather Leidy, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, School of Medicine at the University of Missouri. “So there is something about eating protein for breakfast.”

To displace the carbohydrate mythos more practitioners are inquiring about the amount of protein needed for weight loss. In addition, patients want to know when is the best to time to combine protein with other recommendations, like exercise.

Any protein in the morning for breakfast has been shown to improve satiety and reduce food cravings, which otherwise may have led to over-eating or choosing the wrong food sources. One theory behind the benefits of protein for weight loss is that the consumption of simpler foods is 400 calories/day less in protein eaters than non-protein eaters. There is, however a distinction between how much is recommended for the promotion of weight-loss. Between 18-23 grams relative to gender and activity level is recommended at each meal. There does appear to be a threshold at 30 grams for satiety and the reduction of food cravings. Those that are physically active should add an additional 18-25 grams post workout, while those that are athletic should add even more. The logic behind this additional protein for these individuals is due to proteins anabolic benefits beyond weight loss.

Going one step further, research suggests that due to the apparent protein threshold it may be beneficial to consume additional protein at breakfast instead of dinner, where the most protein is usually consumed. Re-distributing this protein to breakfast time is a great way to get the day started right.

Whether the morning is about jumping out of bed looking forward to a day full of energy or about a sound nutritional start, your answer is protein!

L B Bauer, L J Reynolds, S M Douglas, M L Kearney, H A Hoertel, R S Shafer, J P Thyfault, H J Leidy. A pilot study examining the effects of consuming a high-protein vs normal-protein breakfast on free-living glycemic control in overweight/obese ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents. International Journal of Obesity, 2015; DOI:10.1038/ijo.2015.101