Are Protein Rich Breakfasts the Answer for Overweight Teens?

by Theresa Greenwell, International Science

Several research studies have shown that protein rich meals or snacks can lead to a reduction in snacking, an increase in satiety and, over time, weight loss. Often we do not get the protein we need throughout the day, because instead of consuming protein we eat simple carbohydrates that are found in white bread, snack foods and many processed foods.

A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity (2015) looked at the effect of a high protein breakfast versus a normal-protein breakfast, or no breakfast on overweight/obese teenagers (age ~19 years; ~29.9 BMI). During the study, 1 group received a normal-protein breakfast (13 g protein), another received a high-protein breakfast (35 g protein), while the third group continued to skip breakfast as they normally did.  Participants were asked to keep track of feelings of hunger and their daily intake of food and beverages.

Participants’ weight and body composition were measured before and after the 12 week period of this study. They were also instructed to wear a device that assessed their minute-to-minute glucose levels in order for researchers to better understand how the different meals/no meals affected glucose levels over time.

Results showed that the group receiving the high-protein breakfast had an overall reduced daily food intake equal to 400 calories, and they also lost body fat mass.  Additionally, this group had reduced 24-hour glucose variabilities, reduced 24-hour maximal glucose responses, and reduced postprandial (after eating) glucose fluctuations when compared with those on normal-protein diets.

This pilot study may provide support for improving the dietary intake of older, overweight/obese teenagers, as well as those who are younger, in order to promote better health and weight management.

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