High Protein Breakfast May Help Energy Balance In Overweight Teen Girls

High Protein Breakfast  May Help Energy Balance In Overweight Teen Girls 

Breakfast can alter appetite hormones and key brain regions

Written by Nalin Siriwardhana, Ph.D, Editor In Chief for Nutrition Remarks, Solon, OH, USA

Reviewed by Dr. Heather Leidy, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO. USA

Nutrition Remarks Health News Highlights (April  26, 2013) Print PDF of High Protein Breakfast May Help Energy Balance In Overweight Teen Girls

There are many reasons why many Americans skip breakfast. But the consequences can be detrimental, particularly for teens who are overweight/obese. Breakfast skipping might increase the desire to eat larger dinner meals, eat in-between meals, or even eat unhealthy snacks throughout the evening. Thus, the addition of breakfast might play a significant role in obesity treatment and/or prevention.

Obese youngsters are likely to be at high risk for heart diseases, diabetes and even some types of cancer.

An interesting study led by Prof. Leidy at the University of Missouri and published in American Journal of Nutrition, revealed the potential of  high protein breakfast meals in reducing unhealthy snacking in overweight/obese ‘breakfast skipping’ teens.


Brain regions which displayed reduced activation eight hours after the consumption of the high protein breakfast

Brain regions which displayed reduced activation eight hours after the consumption of the high protein breakfast

In the study,  20 late-adolescent overweight/obese ‘breakfast skipping’ girls ate, on separate weeks, normal protein ready-to-eat cereal-based breakfast meals or  high protein egg and lean beef-based breakfast meals or continued to skip breakfast  The study findings reveal that the high protein breakfast increases satiety, reduces food motivation and reward, and reduces unhealthy evening snacking (on high fat and high sugar foods) compared to skipping breakfast or eating a normal protein cereal breakfast.

Though the study is limited for 20 girls for only 7 days/pattern, the study focused both on physiologic and non-physiologic aspects and used detailed blood sample analysis and brain fMRI imaging. Compared to the normal protein breakfast, the high protein breakfast led to reduced dinner-time brain activation in the hippocampus and parahippocampus areas-which are brain regions controlling food reward/cravings. Authors anticipate that if the same eating pattern continues more than 7 days and for up to a longer period of time, there may be a significant reduction in daily energy intake leading to weight loss. This hypothesis is further supported by other previous studies that described breakfast skipping is associated with weight gain. A study published in 2010, in the International Journal of Obesity by Dr. Tasi’s group (Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital, Taipei Branch, Taipei, Taiwan), reported that breakfast plays a potential role in obesity prevention. Another recent study published in Public Health Nutrition journal by Dr. Manios’s group (Harokopio University of Athens, Greece), highlights that higher dairy consumption with a more adequate breakfast is one of the important initiatives to be considered for childhood obesity prevention.

Though further comprehensive studies are required to better describe exact mechanisms, this study from Dr. Leidy’s group and other related studies highlight the importance of breakfast with optimal protein for energy intake regulation and weight management specifically in overweight/obese youngsters.

This information is primarily based on the following article published by . Dr. Heather Leidy, PhD. Additional information abstracted from PubMed, CDC , USDA and other reliable sources.

Leidy et al. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. American Journal of Nutrition.

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