By Riley Johnson

Purdue University | Dietetic Intern |

You may have had a parent growing up who always told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, but is that really true? Does eating breakfast or skipping it all together really matter to your overall health and well-being? Does the type of breakfast you eat really matter? Let’s dive in together to find out!

Eating Breakfast vs. Breakfast Skipping

Eating breakfast has been a part of most people’s diets for centuries. Eating breakfast helps to kick start your metabolism for the day and gives you the energy to start your morning. In fact, many schools participate in the National School Breakfast Program because the schools know that if their kids don’t eat breakfast then the kids can’t pay attention as well as those kids who ate breakfast. The children who eat breakfast are better able to learn since their stomachs aren’t growling and distracting them. Each person has a certain number of calories and nutrients they need to consume daily to meet their nutritional needs. In people who skip breakfast, they fast all night while sleeping and then don’t consume their first meal until around lunchtime. This means their bodies could go around 12 hours without food. By lunchtime, they will be very hungry and could potentially overeat. People who feed their body right away in the morning won’t have that overly hungry feeling by the time lunch rolls around and therefore will likely not overeat. So, skipping breakfast could cause a person to consistently overeat during lunch and dinner to try and make up for the calories they missed by skipping breakfast. This could lead to someone being overweight or even obese. Let’s look at a study done on breakfast consumption and the type of breakfast consumed.

High Protein, Normal Protein, and Breakfast Skippers

For the past 50 years or so eating breakfast has been associated with preventing and treating obesity. As more and more people skip breakfast in our time there has also been a rise in obesity. Is this a coincidence? Possibly, however, one research study showed that increased frequency of breakfast consumption was associated with lower Body Mass Index (BMI), reduced weight gain, and lower body fat.1 There is a lot of data to support that eating breakfast promotes individuals to have a healthy weight status. The type of breakfast eaten, however, is important to promote satiety and either reduce weight or maintain weight status. In a study done in 2015, a sample of overweight adolescents who were breakfast skippers was randomly assigned to eat a normal protein breakfast, a high protein breakfast, or to continue skipping breakfast. The study outcomes that were related to weight management included changes in body weight and body composition, daily food intake, and indices of appetite control.1 The study found that the high protein breakfast helped to prevent fat mass gain over the course of the study, and the normal protein breakfast did not. The high protein breakfast also helped to reduce total daily caloric intake compared to breakfast skippers. Lastly from this study, the high protein breakfast consumers experienced reductions in daily hunger compared to breakfast skippers.1 The high protein breakfast contained 35 grams of protein and the normal protein breakfast only had 13 grams of protein.

This study shows us that the daily addition of a high protein breakfast can help improve weight management, prevent body fat gain, and help to reduce total daily caloric intake. This works because protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, thus keeping you fuller for longer and helping you to not overeat during lunch and dinner. So, what do 35 grams of protein look like?

If you ate 2 large eggs, 2 sausage links, and 1 cup of Greek yogurt that would equate to about 35-39 grams of protein. There are 6 grams of protein per egg, about 15 grams of protein in a cup of greek yogurt, and about 5-6 grams of protein per sausage link. My favorite way to get a large amount of protein in for breakfast is by making a smoothie. I make smoothies with Greek yogurt, milk, protein powder, ice, and a fruit. My favorite fruit to add into smoothies are blueberries! These smoothies are protein-packed, quick, easy, and keep you full all morning long. So, don’t skip breakfast anymore, now that you know it has so many health benefits!

References:

  1. Leidy HJ, Hoertel HA, Douglas SM, Higgins KA, Shafer RS. A high-protein breakfast prevents body fat gain, through reductions in daily intake and hunger, in “breakfast skipping” adolescents. Obesity. 2015;23(9):1761-1764. doi:10.1002/oby.21185