High steaks

Before you reach for that bowl of Special K, get a load of this.

According to a new research, eating a protein-rich breakfast can help to control your appetite all day long and cut back on evening snacking.

Researchers divided the adolescent subjects of this small week-long study into three groups.

The first was assigned to skip breakfast. The second ate a breakfast of eggs and lean beef. And the third at a more typical breakfast of boxed cereal. (Both breakfasts came in at 350 calories.)

On the study’s final day, participants submitted questionnaires and blood samples. They also sat for pre-dinner MRIs to assess for brain signaling that serves as food cues.

The research team discovered that the subjects who ate breakfast were more full throughout the day than subjects who skipped it. But those who ate a high-protein breakfast instead of cereal were significantly less hungry at the end of the day.

What’s more, a high-protein meal in the morning also cut subjects ghrelin levels while increasing levels of peptide YY. Just to refresh your memory, these are two important weight-regulating hormones that play key roles in your body’s hunger impulses.

Compared to cereal, the high-protein breakfast also led to greater decreases in hippocampal and parahippocampal activation. In plain language, that means that steak and eggs did a better job of telling subjects’ brains that they were full.

How cool is that?

But what’s most exciting here is that high-protein breakfast also cut back on later junk food snacking. Which means warding off high-fat, high-sugar late-night binges may actually be as easy as eating the right food in the morning.

This certainly reflects my own personal experience. Eating protein in the morning always makes me feel more satisfied throughout the entire day. Which is why it’s rare that I even consider having anything else for breakfast.

I know I’ve said this for years, but something so simple–just a mere shift in dietary habits–could help to battle rising levels of obesity. And this study proves it.

I know it may sound shocking to many readers–and maybe even to the researchers behind this study. But we could curb the twin epidemics of heart disease and diabetes just as effectively, simply by changing the way we eat.

Of course, this would require changes from a broad, governmental level–policy shifts that would make fresh, healthy, nutrient-rich food both inexpensive and readily available.

And that is the tougher aspect to this whole story.

I mean, I’ve dedicated my career to changing eating habits one reader, patient, listener at a time. Imagine if the government–which, whether you believe it or not, does play a significant role in the way we eat as a nation–got involved.

We could change our destiny. Really. We could.

But that’s enough Norma Rae talk from me for today.

The takeaway here is simple. Just think about how full you feel after eating a donut or cereal versus an omelet. This particular hunger game has a very clear winner.

While we’re on the subject, allow me to report yet another study debunking the myth that eggs are hazardous to your heart.

Researchers from the University of Connecticut recently assigned 37 male and female subjects with metabolic syndrome to two groups.

Both groups followed a moderately carb-restricted diet for 12 weeks. But one group ate three whole eggs every day. The other group was assigned to eat the equivalent amount of egg substitute.

At the end of the study, lipid profile analysis showed that subjects who ate whole eggs daily had higher HDL cholesterol. The composition of this HDL had also improved, becoming richer in a beneficial yolk-based phospholipid.

To top it off, subjects eating real eggs benefited from a greater ability to clear accumulated cholesterol from their blood. The group eating the so-called “healthy” egg substitute, however, did not.

Now that’s a real forkful for the anti-egg camp to chew on.

Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. Am J Clin Nutr April 2013 ajcn.053116.
Egg Consumption Modulates HDL Lipid Composition and Increases the Cholesterol-Accepting Capacity of Serum in Metabolic Syndrome. Lipids. 2013 Mar 15.