Still skipping breakfast to lose weight? A new study published this month in Nutrition Journal makes an important point: it’s not whether or not you eat breakfast, but what you eat for breakfast that makes all the difference.
Researchers from the University of Missouri recently monitored women between the ages of 18 and 55 to determine how eating (or not eating) breakfast affected blood glucose and insulin control throughout the day. Participants ate one of three different meal options—a pancake meal with three grams of protein (high-carb, low-protein); a sausage and egg breakfast skillet with 30 grams of protein (high-protein); or a sausage and egg breakfast skillet with 39 grams protein (highest-protein)—or only water.
After analyzing the results, the research team found that eating a high-protein breakfast was most effective for helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and control cravings (especially for sweets) later in the day. Higher amounts of protein were directly linked to fewer post-meal spikes in blood sugar and associated with healthy weight management and a reduced risk of developing diabetes. In contrast, the high-carb and water-only groups showed frequent spikes in blood sugar a steady rise in cravings throughout the day.
Need a delicious, protein-packed breakfast idea? Try this Savory Salmon Frittata recipe!
Savory Salmon Frittata
1 tsp. coconut oil
¼ cup sweet onion, diced
¼ cup (fresh or frozen) steamed corn kernels
One 4-oz. can salmon, drained
1 ripe tomato, diced
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups fresh spinach, stems trimmed
¼ cup avocado, sliced
¼ cup salsa
1 tbsp. fresh mint or basil leaves, chopped
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Directions: Preheat broiler. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook until softened (about 3 minutes). Add corn, salmon, tomato, and bell pepper; gently stir and continue to cook about 4 minutes more. Pour eggs over mixture; cook on medium heat for another 4 minutes. Place skillet in broiler; broil 1 to 2 minutes until the eggs are light golden brown on top (watch carefully). Remove from broiler, cut frittata into wedges and serve over spinach. Top with avocado and salsa (and cheese, if desired). Sprinkle with fresh herbs, salt, and pepper.
Better digestion, a healthier heart, weight loss—all of these things begin with making smarter choices about the foods we eat, and protein is an important part of every healthy eating plan. Not only is protein considered an important building block for the body, but including plenty of lean protein in your diet can help you feel more satisfied throughout the day and less likely to experience those pesky cravings that can steer you off course.
A good rule of thumb, outlined in Brenda Watson’s Love Your Heart Eating Plan, is to eat 12 portions of protein daily from sources such as lean poultry, meat and seafood; low-fat cheese and yogurt; eggs; tofu; tempeh; and nuts. Eating protein at each meal and snack will help keep your appetite under control, so 12 portions a day will look something like this:
- Breakfast: 2 portions
- Snack: 1–2 portions
- Lunch: 3–4 portions
- Snack: 1–2 portions
- Dinner: 3–4 portions
Protein for Breakfast Helps with Carb Cravings Later
Studies have found that a high-protein breakfast not only helps you feel full longer after eating, but also helps avoid carb cravings later on. Ever start your day with cereal or a muffin and wonder why you’re craving more carbs mid-morning? Try beginning your day with protein and low-sugar fruits and veggies instead.
Portion Quick Guide
In most cases, 3 to 4 portions of protein would make up a standard serving. For example, a standard grilled chicken breast fillet added to a salad is 3 to 4 ounces—or 3 to 4 portions. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started:
Poultry, meat, seafood, cheese
Low-fat Greek yogurt
1 egg or 2 egg whites
1 ounce (handful)
Tip: Take Your Protein to Go!
To make things easy, incorporate protein snacks into your day by preparing them ahead of time and storing them in containers for easy-to-grab snacks when you need them.