Kickstarting a weight loss journey is a tricky business. Diets can feel like temporary solutions because they are often strict and hard to follow. By building up healthy habits over time, however, you may be able to create consistency in your food choices. This can result in consistent weight loss at a healthy rate. So, what food habits should you try out first? According to research, it’s very important to eat a high protein breakfast.
“By starting the day with a higher protein breakfast, you are setting yourself up for success throughout the rest of the day,” says Jessica Rana, a registered dietician at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. “Having a filling, protein rich meal first thing in the morning can help cut cravings and decrease desire to snack throughout the day. If you feel satisfied after breakfast you are less likely to reach for high sugar, high fat options later on.”
Reasons to Eat a High Protein Breakfast
Studies have consistently shown that high-protein diets promote weight loss. For instance, research from the Hormone Research in Paediatrics Journal showed that a breakfast with ample protein promoted weight loss in obese participants. Another study from the International Journal of Obesity found that participants who ate an egg breakfast of 340 calories lost more weight than those who ate a bagel breakfast. The bagel breakfast had the same number of calories.
“Having adequate protein at breakfast can aid in weight loss for a variety of reasons, mainly due to decreasing cravings and providing satiety,” Rana explains. “Overall though, weight loss is directly impacted by physical activity and a caloric deficit. Consuming adequate protein can lead to individuals eating less overall due to protein helping to provide a feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal.”
Why does protein make you feel so full and satisfied with your meal? Research from the Journal of Perspectives in Psychiatric Care and Cell Metabolism shows that protein causes the body to release satiety hormones, or hormones that reduce appetite. It also lowers levels of ghrelin, or your hunger hormone, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In addition, eating protein in the morning may improve the body’s response to high carb foods later in the day. In another study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, all participants ate either high protein, high carb, or high fat breakfasts. Four hours later, the research team had every participant eat white bread. The individuals who ate a high protein breakfast had far better blood sugar and insulin levels after eating the white bread in comparison to the other participants.
What proteins should you add to your breakfast?
There are plenty of healthy proteins to add to your morning meals. Animal-based foods like eggs, egg whites, chicken, and turkey will all keep you on track. However, there are incredibly healthy plant-based options to consider, too.
“I would encourage readers to consume more plant-based protein options in the morning,” Rana says. “Tofu, beans, nuts, nut butters, any type of whole grain, and seeds are all great options.” She recommends adding silken tofu or nut butter to smoothies. You can also try out quinoa as a hot morning cereal.
However, Rana cautions that protein should not be the only nutrient in your breakfast. “In order to have a balanced meal, protein should be paired with fat, complex carbs, and fiber,” she explains. “If you focus only on protein, your day will be sorely lacking in many necessary vitamins and minerals. By pairing your protein with complex carbohydrates, fiber, and fat you will be helping control your blood sugar, which can also aid in cutting cravings and weight management.”
What are some options for well-balanced, high-protein meals? Here’s what Rana suggests:
- A tofu scramble mixed with sautéed vegetables. To round it out, add whole grain toast topped with avocado or nut butter and a side of berries.
- Chicken sausage and egg whites with whole grain toast and sautéed vegetables. For an extra side or a snack for later, add Greek yogurt topped with nuts, seeds, and mixed berries.
- A smoothie with leafy greens, frozen berries, and low-fat milk or plant-based milk. Try also adding nut butter, chia or hemp seeds, and protein powder.
- Oatmeal with banana or mixed berries, nuts or seeds, and a side of Greek yogurt.
By building a consistent breakfast plan with protein, you’ll be well on your way to a long-lasting weight loss diet. With these meal suggestions, you should feel pretty full, too!