While there’s an ongoing debate about whether breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day, one thing is for certain: If you are a breakfast-eater, then what you eat can make a big difference in controlling your appetite and food choices later in the day.
Researchers have found substantial improvements in appetite control and satiety (i.e., feelings of fullness and satisfaction) when folks consume a higher protein compared with lower protein breakfast (e.g., ready-to-eat cereal, bagels, toast, etc.), and that leads to decreased hunger, reduced calorie intake, and ultimately, fat loss.
But the benefits of high-protein meals don’t stop with helping keep you feeling fuller, longer. Protein-rich foods also boost the metabolism to a far greater extent than foods high in carbs and fats—2 to 10 times as much, in fact. What’s more, diets that are high in protein have consistently been shown to lead to greater fat loss and better body composition, and they’ve also been shown to prevent weight regain, promote long-term weight maintenance, and help preserve metabolic rate when dieting.
With that in mind, it’s a great idea to include plenty of protein in your diet, starting with at least 30 grams of high-quality protein at breakfast. Along those lines, here are my top breakfast choices.
Organic Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are both excellent sources of protein, and a number of studies have shown that dairy consumption may lead to even greater losses in body fat and increases in muscle mass. What’s more, Greek yogurt is also a rich in probiotics, including strains from the Lactobacillus family of bacteria, which have been shown to may help folks lose weight and keep it off.
When choosing dairy, it’s best to opt for organic, as studies have shown that dairy from pasture-raised cows is significantly higher in omega-3 fats—which are anti-inflammatory and promote heart health, boost mood, support brain health, and lubricate joints—and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to improve body composition, enhance immunity, and promote a healthy inflammatory response.
One of my favorite breakfast options, especially when I’m on the go and short on time, is a Super Shake made with a high-quality protein supplement blended with some berries, spinach, and almond butter. When choosing a protein supplement, I recommend a blend of “fast” (i.e., whey) and “slow” proteins (i.e., casein), as studies suggest that this “time-released” combination is superior for appetite control (i.e., satiety), body composition, performance, and recovery.
Eggs are synonymous with breakfast, and they’re also a fantastic source of high-quality protein and a dense source of key nutrients, including vitamin D and selenium, which help fortify the immune system. Just like dairy, it’s best to invest in eggs from pasture-raised hens, which, compared to standard store-bought eggs, contain 2 times more omega-3 fats, 6 times more vitamin D, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta-carotene. They are also a great source of choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which support brain and eye health.
What goes great with eggs? Steak, that’s what. When researchers from the University of Missouri fed women 35 grams of protein from beef and egg sources for breakfast, they found that the high-protein breakfast increased satiety, improved appetite control, and reduced cravings and snacking behaviors. Over the course of 12 weeks, the researchers found that consuming that very same high-protein breakfast of beef and eggs prevented fat gain, decreased hunger, and reduced daily calorie intake.
In addition to being an excellent source of protein, beef is also packed with key vitamins and minerals, including several B vitamins, zinc, iron, and phosphorus. Like dairy and eggs, grass-fed beef from pasture-raised cows also has a better nutritional profile than beef from grain-fed animals, containing about 50% more omega-3 fats and nearly 3 times more CLA.