What is the best breakfast for weight loss?
The benefits of eating breakfast are well documented – improved concentration, fewer cravings and fewer calories consumed for the remainder of the day. Which is the best breakfast options has not been so clear. For some time we have known that a protein rich breakfast helps to keep us full and now work published by Tel Aviv University has shed further light on what is the best breakfast mix for weight loss.
Researchers compared 3 different breakfast options – a high protein breakfast in which the protein was predominately from dairy foods; a second high protein option with protein via soy, tuna or eggs and a traditional carb breakfast option. Over the 12 week study period which also included a larger breakfast and lunch followed by a smaller calorie controlled dinner, dieters who consumed a dairy based breakfast lost 7.6kg compared to 6.1kg for dieters in the other proteins group and just 3.1kg for dieters in the high carb group. This basically means that dieters who enjoyed a whey based protein shake have shown superior weight loss results compared to traditional high carb breakfast options.
This study supports previous research results which have found that a protein rich, egg based breakfast, which is particularly high in the amino acid leucine, was of particular benefit for weight loss as leucine helps to regulate insulin levels. Tightly controlled insulin levels are linked to weight control long term. In this study, whey protein specifically found in dairy rich breakfast options including Greek yoghurt, milk and concentrated in protein powder appeared to offer the added benefit of helping to suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin. The group eating a breakfast with whey protein had fewer spikes in their blood sugar levels after meals when compared to the other two diets. Fluctuating blood glucose levels can result in sugar cravings, feelings of fatigue and flagging energy and concentration levels.
Traditional carb rich breakfast options – breakfast cereal, toast, bagels, juice and muesli can be easy to overconsume and can contain 2-3 x the carbohydrate load of protein rich breakfasts. For example, a large bowl of muesli or single bagel can contain as much as 60g of total carbohydrate and just 5g of protein. This is compared to just 20-30g of total carbohydrate and 10-20g of protein for eggs on wholegrain toast or a breakfast shake made with dairy milk and fruit. This study supports the hypothesis that high carbohydrate load breakfasts leave us prone to fluctuating blood glucose levels and weight gain over time compared to higher protein options.
This does not mean that do need to ditch the toast and cereal completely. Rather looking for ways to boost your protein intake via dairy or eggs offer positive benefits when it comes to weight control. For example teaming a little muesli with a serve of low sugar high protein Greek yoghurt; eggs with your breakfast bagel or toast or skip the juice in favour of a whey protein smoothie. All of these options offer 20g of high quality protein, and will help to keep you full and satisfied throughout the morning.