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Breakfast – Part 1 of 3: What to eat and why

Why Protein is Supreme

Protein is a key nutrient for effective weight loss. In fact, adding more protein to your diet is the easiest and most effective way to lose weight. Studies show that protein is responsible for curbing appetite and prevents over eating later in the day. Therefore, it makes sense that starting your day with a high-protein breakfast may be ‘the most’ effective weight loss tip around.

Should I Eat Breakfast?

We understand that not everyone is the same so you need to find a meal routine that works best for you. In the past, skipping breakfast has been associated with weight gain but there is now good evidence showing that recommendations to eat or skip breakfast have no effect on weight gain or loss.

As a guide, if you are someone that requires an early start and does work that is physically demanding, having a high protein breakfast before work may be the best option as performance and energy may suffer if you go without food. For an office worker or someone that starts work later you may be able to get by pushing your first meal back to 11am or even lunchtime. Again, there is no one size fits all approach that works for everyone. It’s important to try and tweak different things to see what works best for you. The most important thing is to ensure your first meal contains a good quality source of protein.

Protein Helps Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, protein is the most important nutrient. This is because the body uses more calories to metabolize protein, compared to carbohydrates or fat and protein also keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

One study showed that increasing protein intake from 15 to 30% of total calories helped participants eat 441 fewer calories per day, which led to a weight loss of 5 kg in just 12 weeks. Another study found that increasing protein to 25% of total calories reduced late-night snacking by half and obsessive thoughts about food by 60%.

Protein in Your First Meal Helps You Eat Less Later

A lot of studies are looking at how eating protein at breakfast affects eating behaviour for the rest of the day. Some studies have shown that high-protein breakfasts reduce hunger and help people eat up to 135 fewer calories later in the day. This may not seem like a lot, but over the course of a year this could be the difference between losing or gaining 7-8 kilos.

Even more convincingly, MRI’s have shown that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces the signals in the brain that control food motivation and reward-driven behaviour. Protein also helps you feel full. This is because it activates the body’s signals that curb appetite, which reduces cravings and overeating. This is mostly due to a drop in the hunger hormone ghrelin and a rise in the fullness hormones. Several studies have now demonstrated that eating a high-protein breakfast changes these hormones throughout the day.

Protein Help Reduce Belly Fat

Dietary protein is inversely related to belly fat, meaning the more high-quality protein you eat, the less belly fat you have.  One study of obese teens showed that replacing a grain-based breakfast with an egg-based meal led to significantly more weight loss over 3 months. The higher-protein breakfast group lost 4% of their body weight, while the lower-protein group lost only 0.2%. This is obviously significant.

Example Foods That Are Best for Breakfast

In short – Eggs, Meat, Fish or Poultry

Eggs are probably the best place to start when switching to a high protein breakfast as the thought of going straight to steak or salmon may be a bit too big a jump this early on. Eggs are incredibly nutritious and high in protein.

All fish, seafood, red meat, poultry and dairy products are great sources of protein to include for breakfast. It’s a good idea to rotate through different breakfast options so you don’t become bored from eating the same things all the time.

Here are a few examples of high-protein breakfasts that can help you lose weight:

  • Scrambled eggs: with veggies, fried in butter or coconut oil.
  • An omelette: with cottage cheese and spinach.
  • Stir-fried beef strips: with vegetables.
  • Greek yogurt: with wheat germ, seeds and berries.
  • A shake: one scoop of protein powder, Greek yogurt, your preferred type of milk and frozen berries.

 

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