Faced with the choice of a bagel or an egg, anyone might be forgiven for choosing the familiar comfort of carbohydrates to start the day. But new research indicates that while Americans usually consume plenty of protein throughout the day, breakfast usually falls short.

New research presented recently at The Obesity Society‘s annual scientific meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, indicates that eating a high-protein breakfast curbs hunger throughout the morning, compared with a low-protein breakfast or skipping breakfast altogether, in 18- to 55-year-old women.

All of the breakfast meals contained approximately 300 calories and similar quantities of fat and fiber. The protein-rich breakfast bowls contained 30 to 39 grams of protein. Participants completed questionnaires to rate aspects of appetite – such as hunger, fullness and desire to eat – before breakfast and at 30-minute intervals between breakfast and lunch. Lunch was tortellini and sauce, which subjects were asked to eat until comfortably full.

Study participants:

• Had improved appetite ratings (lower hunger, more fullness, less desire to eat) throughout the morning after eating each protein-rich breakfast; and

• Ate fewer calories at lunch, compared with the low-protein breakfast and breakfast skipping (water only).

If the thought of consuming bacon, sausage or other animal products is not appealing, breakfasters can choose high-protein vegetarian alternatives such as seeds, beans, nut butters, seitan and tofu. A small handful of raw walnuts sprinkled on a bowl of high-fiber cereal, for example, can boost protein consumption.

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