A new study demonstrates that eating protein-rich eggs for breakfast reduces hunger and decreases calorie consumption at lunch and throughout the day. The study, published in the February issue of Nutrition Research, found that men who consumed an egg-based breakfast ate significantly fewer calories when offered an unlimited lunch buffet compared to when they ate a carbohydrate-rich bagel breakfast of equal calories.(1) This study supports previous research which revealed that eating eggs for breakfast as part of a reduced-calorie diet helped overweight dieters lose 65 percent more weight and feel more energetic than dieters who ate a bagel breakfast of equal calories and volume.(2)
"There is a growing body of evidence that supports the importance of high-quality protein in the diet for overall health and in particular the importance of protein at the breakfast meal," said Maria Luz Fernandez, Ph.D., study author and professor in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Connecticut. "We examined two typical American breakfasts, and the participants' self-reported appetite ratings reveal that a protein-rich breakfast helps keep hunger at bay."
A Closer Look at the Study
Twenty-one men participated in this study and each ate two different test breakfasts. On one test day the participants ate an egg-based, protein-rich breakfast including three scrambled eggs and one-and-a-half pieces of white toast. On another test day they ate a bagel-based, carbohydrate-rich breakfast including one plain bagel, one half tablespoon of low-fat cream cheese and six ounces of low-fat yogurt. The two breakfasts contained identical calories, but when the men ate the egg-based breakfast the researchers observed that:
- the men ate roughly 112 fewer calories at a buffet lunch three hours following the egg breakfast compared to the bagel breakfast
- they consumed approximately 400 fewer calories in the 24-hour period following the egg breakfast
- blood tests showed that ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger when elevated, was significantly higher after the bagel breakfast
"Starting the day with a high-quality protein breakfast like eggs is a great tool to promote long-lasting fullness and reduced calorie consumption," said Helenbeth Reynolds, M.P.H., R.D., registered dietitian and nutrition consultant. "For only 70 calories, eggs are a compact, nutrient-rich source of high-quality protein, and nearly half of an egg's protein, along with many other nutrients, is found in the yolk, so I always encourage eating the whole egg."
Quick and Easy Egg Breakfasts
Reynolds suggests these tips to make a protein-rich breakfast incredibly quick and easy:
- For a speedy and satisfying balanced meal, beat an egg in a small bowl or coffee mug, place on high heat in the microwave for 60 seconds and add it to a toasted whole-grain English muffin. Top with low-fat cheese and a slice of tomato.
- Keep hard-cooked eggs ready and waiting in your refrigerator to grab as part of breakfast on the run.
- Bake a batch of egg and vegetable Muffin Frittatas ahead of time, and quickly re-warm in the microwave for a delicious and filling, protein-packed breakfast.
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More information: 1) Ratliff, J., Leite, J.O., de Ogburn, R., Puglisi, M.J., VanHeest, J., Fernandez, M.L. (2010) Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men. Nutrition Research, 30, 96-103.
2)Vander Wal, J.S., Gupta, A., Khosla, P., Dhurandhar. (2008). Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. International Journal of Obesity, 32, 1545-1551.