Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Not only does it give you energy to start a new day, but breakfast is linked to many health benefits, including weight control and improved performance. Protein optimizes your brain’s ability to send messages to the rest of your body, and is a building block for cells throughout the body. It is necessary for healthy skin, nails, muscles, cartilage and blood, and there are additional proven benefits of consuming most of your protein in the mornings. Of course, eating more protein than you body can use is not helpful, as your body stores excess protein as fat, so knowing your daily protein needs is important.
Here are a few benefits of a protein-packed breakfast:
1. Helps with weight-loss and weight-control
It isn’t easy to lose weight today, with our jam-packed schedules and oversized portions, but according to research conducted by scientists at Biofortis Clinical Research and the Department of Exercise Physiology and Nutrition at the University of Missouri, protein can help – especially if you eat it for breakfast. Why does your belly like to start its day with protein? It turns out the calorie-burning, muscle-building nutrient takes serious time to digest, plus protein stimulates the secretion of a gut hormone (called Peptide YY) that triggers long-lasting feelings of fullness. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture a third of women ages 20 to 40 do not get enough protein. Fix that – and lose weight – with these high protein breakfast recipes.
2. Alertness and improved concentration
With our fast-paced lives, busy schedules, and demanding jobs we could all use help in being more alert and improving our concentration. Protein provides your brain with the amino acids it needs to function at its optimal level. A morning meal high in protein raises your brain’s tyrosine levels. This helps your brain produce neurotransmitters (called norepinephrine and dopamine), which make you feel awake and alert and help to improve your concentration.
Researchers from the University of Missouri used MRI scans to compare the brain activity of teens who ate high-protein breakfasts to teens who either skipped breakfast or ate breakfasts moderate in protein. Right before lunch, the breakfast skippers were the hungriest, but the MRI scans showed that those who ate the high-protein breakfast experienced less brain activity in regions that control food motivation and hunger, than those who ate cereal for breakfast. The researchers concluded that having a breakfast rich in protein helps you stay fuller for longer compared to having a lower-protein breakfast.
4. Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease
When you consume a high-protein breakfast, you help fuel your metabolism. This allows you to burn more calories throughout the day. Those who do not consume breakfast at all risk becoming increasingly resistant to insulin. Insulin is needed to help your body use glucose to provide energy for basic activities. Insulin resistance is associated with increased risk for diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to serious complications and is associated with heart disease and high blood pressure.
While a high-protein breakfast offers a number of health benefits, it is important to choose high-protein options that do not contain excess fat. High-protein sources like red meat and full-fat cheeses can be high in saturated fats that can outweigh the benefits of satiety throughout the day. Instead, opt for lean protein choices like egg whites, lean ground beef, skim milk, protein powder or low-fat yogurt. Lean protein food selections offer the benefits of a high-protein breakfast, without harmful effects like weight gain or increased cholesterol level that can stem from eating high-fat protein sources.
What is your favorite breakfast recipe?
For a tasty snack try these Pumpkin Protein Muffins