We know protein for breakfast is best for weight loss, but what kind?
The benefits of a protein-rich breakfast are well documented: blood glucose regulation, high nutritional value and that feeling of fullness that can aid weight loss. Plenty of reasons, then, to eat your dairy, egg or fish-based breakfast.
If weight loss is your goal, then starting the day on a protein high remains sound nutritional advice. But what kinds of protein are most beneficial?
Researchers from Tel Aviv University carried out a 12-week study comparing three different breakfast options. The first was a high-protein, predominantly dairy-based breakfast; the second a high-protein meal with soy, tuna or eggs; and the third was a traditional, carb-heavy breakfast.
Participants, who were all overweight or obese, had Type 2 diabetes and had an average age of 59, consumed a larger breakfast and lunch, followed by a smaller, calorie-controlled dinner, and each option contained the same number of calories.
By the end of the study, researchers found that those who had the dairy-based breakfast lost an average of 7.6 kilograms, while the dieters who had the other protein option lost an average of 6.1 kilograms, and the high-carb breakfast eaters lost an average of 3.1 kilograms.
How this study differs from previous research into the link between a high-protein breakfast and weight loss is that it suggests that a specific type of protein can have additional health benefits.
Whey protein — a byproduct of cheese production and found in many dairy-rich breakfast options, such as Greek yogurt, milk and in concentrated form in protein powder — suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin.
The group who ate the breakfast with whey protein had fewer spikes in their blood sugar levels after meals compared to the diet including the protein breakfast of eggs, soy or tuna. Fluctuation in blood glucose levels can lead to sugar cravings, feelings of tiredness and low energy and concentration levels.
Chloe Miles, a British Dietetic Association spokeswoman, told the Independent that she agreed that protein was proven to help with weight maintenance and said it was important to include it in every meal.
However, she pointed out that this particular study had quite a small sample size and used overweight and obese people with an average age of 59 years old with Type 2 diabetes, so the results may not apply to younger people with a healthy body weight and without diabetes.