WASHINGTON - If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and you're trying to lose weight -- better pack it with protein.
A study by the University of Missouri Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, funded by the Egg Nutrition Center/American Egg Board and the Beef Check-off, found that higher protein breakfasts, such as bacon and eggs, improve appetite control and reduce snacking in the evening.
The study looked at 20 overweight or obese women between the ages of 18 and 20 who either skipped breakfast, ate a high-protein breakfast of eggs and lean beef or ate a breakfast of ready-to-eat cereal.
Every 350-calorie breakfast had the same number of calories, fat, fiber, sugar and energy density. The only difference was that the high-protein breakfast contained 35 grams of protein.
The women who ate the high-protein breakfasts felt more full and had reduced brain activity linked to controlling food cravings.
"Eating a protein-rich breakfast impacts the drive to eat later in the day, when people are more likely to consume high-fat or high-sugar snacks," says Heather Leidy, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, in a news release.
"These data suggest that eating a protein-rich breakfast is one potential strategy to prevent overeating and improve diet quality by replacing unhealthy snacks with high quality breakfast foods."
Those in the study ate egg and beef-based foods, including burritos or egg-based waffles with applesauce and a beef sausage patty.
Leidy also recommends plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or ground pork loin as ways to get to 35 grams of protein.
She says it may take several days to adjust to eating early in the day.
WTOP's Del Walters contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.
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