Knowing what to eat for breakfast or even if you should eat breakfast are questions that I’m sure many of us have asked particularly when it comes to losing weight. Although according to the research, it would appear that beginning your day with a breakfast high in protein you may just have found the key to effective weight loss.
Before we delve a little deeper into why you should eat protein for breakfast, I would like to begin this article by noting that regardless of the type of diet you choose to embark on, it’s crucial to understand that there’s not one single ingredient, beverage, or supplement that you can ingest that will make you lose weight or belly fat all on its own.
When embarking on a plan to lose weight start by adopting a whole food diet and add moderate exercise at least 3 times a week. Eliminating processed foods which are normally high in sodium and/or sugar is crucial, as is staying hydrated and managing stress and sleep.
Now for the fun stuff……
Why protein for Breakfast?
High-protein breakfasts have been shown to reduce appetite and cravings therefore, potentially helping you lose belly fat. By following an eating program that removes or significantly reduces processed food and incorporates more protein has been shown in several studies to result in less abdominal fat overall, an increased metabolic function and increased satiety which in turn prevents you from over-eating.
More protein at breakfast has a stabilising effect on blood sugar which has the potential to balance your blood sugar levels throughout the entire day. Whereby consuming bread, cereals, pastries which are high in refined sugar and contain little protein or fat will cause generous spikes in blood sugar levels leading to dysregulation.
Eating protein for breakfast allows your body to use additional calories that are needed to metabolise protein, in comparison to fat or carbohydrates. This means you burn more calories by eating protein overeating carbs or fat. In fact, a high protein intake has been shown to result in an additional 80 to 100 calories being burned each day (1,2). Your body uses much more calories to metabolise protein (20-30%) than carbs (5-10%) or fat (0-3%) (3).
In another study, people on a weight loss program received either an egg for breakfast or a bagel for breakfast both having the same number of calories. After 8 weeks, those eating the egg breakfast had a 61% higher reduction in BMI, 65% more weight loss and a 34% greater reduction in waist measurements (4).
High-Protein Belly-Flattening Foods
Now that we have looked at the benefits of eating protein for breakfast, and how protein assists with weight loss let’s take a look at which are the best protein options to stock up on and have at the ready for when you wake up in the morning.
- Eggs are a quick, easy and healthy breakfast choice that can help trim belly fat. One egg contains approximately 7 grams of protein, eggs are incredibly nutritious, they also contain the nutrient choline which researchers believe is involved in many different cellular processes, such as cell structure and cell messaging, fat transport and metabolism, DNA synthesis and nervous system maintenance. By simply replacing a grain-based processed breakfast with eggs studies have shown that it will help you eat less calories assisting in weight loss and loss of body fat.
- Unsweetened plain Greek yogurt gives a dual benefit of not only being a great source of healthy protein but also by providing the necessary probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus which may also help to reduce abdominal fat.
- Chickpeas are both high in fibre and protein, research has shown that people who regularly eat chickpeas are 53% less likely to be obese. 1/2 cup serving of chickpeas has approximately 7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fibre, additionally they contain immune-boosting antioxidants and minerals. Chickpeas mix well in soups, stews, dips and salads making a meal feel far more substantial. (5)
- All nuts not only taste good, but peanuts in particular seem to have the additional benefit of assisting in the maintenance of blood sugars. A 1/4-cup of peanuts provides approximately 17 grams of protein. With Peanut butter averaging 25 grams of protein per 100 grams serving, making it an ideal snack to help you fill up and stay satisfied. Just ensure that you’re mindful of the ingredients label on all foods, when it comes to choosing peanut butter check that the label states that it includes peanuts, salt and possibly a little oil, without any additional nasties. Pumpkin seeds are another hero protein food, also containing zinc, which is amazing for your immune system and skin. Giving approximately the equivalent amount of protein per serve as peanuts, pepitas are a great addition to most diets. Almonds are also a strong source of protein, and various research has linked an increase in almond consumption to a decrease in LDL cholesterol (the cholesterol that we don’t want). Regularly snacking on almonds has been linked to greater weight loss due to its effect on supercharging your metabolism. Walnuts are also high on the list of nutty superstars, helping curb cravings, reduce inflammation and promoting good gut health. Nuts contain many nutrients in which many individuals tend to fall short of including magnesium which is essential to support sleep, muscle conditioning and stress. If you have no sensitivity to nuts, they make for a super quick and easy snack, can be blended into nut butter, added to smoothies or used as a salad topper.
- Fish and poultry: are all healthy protein sources that can help keep us full. A 100gm serving of cooked chicken packs in around 27 grams of protein. You also can’t go past good quality fish as a healthy source of protein, the healthy fats in this fish like salmon and sardines are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, lean protein, with the addition of minerals like potassium and selenium making salmon an ideal dinner choice alongside the added benefit of reducing visceral fat. Lean meat including chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef may also boost your metabolism and are packed full of nutrients.
Now that you have the low-down on why you should be eating protein in your breakfast, you may be asking just what you should eat.
Following are a few Protein food recipes for breakfast
- Scrambled eggs with vegetables, fried in coconut oil or olive oil.
- 2 egg Omelette with cottage cheese and spinach.
- Stir-fried tofu: with kale and dairy-free cheese.
- Greek yogurt topped with seeds and berries.
Best protein breakfast recipes (at least my favourite)
- Tomato, Onion & Feta Omelette
- Boiled eggs on Ryvita biscuits (yum)
- Zucchini Fitters
- Protein pancakes are also a very popular breakfast food now and super easy and delicious.
For more recipe inspiration check out the hCG Diet Australia Phase 3 or Maintenance Phase recipes on the website.
Adv Dip Health Science Naturopathy, Nutrition