In September 2015 The Obesity Society published a research paper entitled A high-protein breakfast prevents body fat gain, through reductions in daily intake and hunger in "breakfast skipping" adolescents. The American authors H J Leidy and others were concerned that many young people skip breakfast altogether, and they wondered whether this leaves them so hungry that later in the day they overeat and hence put on more weight than is good for them.
They took 57 overweight or obese young people aged from 18 to 20 who normally skipped breakfast, and divided them into three groups. Over a 12-week period the young people in Group 1 ate a 350 kilocalorie breakfast every day with a high proportion of protein (35gm); in Group 2 they ate a 350 kilocalorie breakfast every day with a normal proportion of protein (13gm); and in Group 3 they continued to skip breakfast altogether. For the rest of the day they were all allowed to eat what they liked, but their total calorie intakes were measured and recorded.
35gm of protein could have been provided by a pork sausage and two medium eggs.
On average over the period of the research, the young people in Group 1 ate 412 calories a day less then they had been eating while they skipped breakfast, and they lost 0.4 kg in weight. The ones in Group 2 ate 118 calories a day more than they had been eating and gained 0.3 kg. The continuing breakfast skippers in Group 3 ate 372 calories a day more than previously and they put on 1.6 kg!
It wasn't obvious why the people in the breakfast skipping group started to eat more than they had done before the research started, but the research did produce two important results:
1. The young people in the first group, who ate a high protein breakfast instead of skipping breakfast, ate less each day as a result and lost weight.
2. The young people in the second group who ate a normal breakfast instead of skipping breakfast as they normally did ate a little more each day in consequence and gained a little weight. Therefore eating a normal breakfast instead of no breakfast does not help one to lose weight: it has to be a relatively high protein breakfast.
A relatively high protein breakfast consists mainly of foods in which a high proportion of the calories come from protein.
Among typical common high-protein foods for breakfast:
- one 95gm pork sausage provides 21gm of protein
- one 85gm tin of sardines in water provides 19.5gm
- 50gm of Cheddar cheese provides 12.5gm
- two medium eggs provide 13.0gm
- two 30gm rashers of bacon provide 12.0gm
- one large 200ml glass of full cream milk provides 7.0gm of protein.
This research strongly supports what I have written in my book Twenty-First Century Nutrition and Family Health, namely that the currently recommended high carbohydrate breakfasts based on cereals and low fat milk are of no help in keeping your weight down. Both protein and fat satisfy one's hunger longer than starchy carboydrates and sugar do. So what you should be eating for breakfast is the kind of food that people used to eat eighty years ago when hardly anyone was obese or overweight - an egg or two, some fried bacon or sausages, or even some cold meat; or else some other source of protein on a thin slice of buttered toast, e.g. sardines, tuna or cheese. A small glass of unsweetened fruit juice or some natural yoghourt would make a good starter.