Carbohydrate & Protein at Breakfast Helps Keep Dieters Cravings at Bay & Weight Off
A study published in the March 2012 issue of the journal Steroids has shown that eating a high carbohydrate, high protein breakfast as a part of a reduced calorie diet may help curb cravings and sustain weight loss.
This randomized controlled study included 144 obese and overweight people, ages 20 to 65. Women were given a 1,400 calorie diet while men were given 1,600 calories per day. While calories were kept the same, some the women and men received a high carbohydrate and high protein breakfast while the rest had a normal breakfast. Those who got the special breakfast were allowed to have a small dessert such as cookies, cake, or ice cream with their high carb and protein breakfast.
Over 16 weeks, researchers tracked markers of appetite, insulin levels, blood sugar and fats, and the amount of weight loss. Both groups averaged 16 pounds of weight loss during the 16 weeks. However, the high carb and protein group that were allowed to have dessert with breakfast reported fewer cravings and ate less calories at dinner. This group also was better able to maintain the weight loss.
Other benefits of the high carb and protein breakfast included higher satiety ratings, feelings of fullness and satisfaction after eating. Ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, was also lower in this group which likely helped keep cravings at bay. Another interesting finding of the study was that it showed significant improvements in total cholesterol, triglycerides, and both LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.
Bottom line: starting your day off with a substantial breakfast of healthy carbohydrates and protein may help you eat less and have fewer cravings throughout the day. Allowing a small serving of a treat food may also be key to keeping you on track without feeling deprived on a reduced calorie diet.
Jakubowicz D, Froy O, Wainstein J, Boaz M. Meal timing and composition influence ghrelin levels, appetite scores and weight loss maintenance in overweight and obese adults. Steroids. 2012;77(4):323-331.
Author: Tad Campbell, Master of Clinical Nutrition Student, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Editor: Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, Assistant Professor, UT Southwestern Medical Center