Heather Leidy of the University of Missouri said the study involved 20 overweight or obese adolescent females ages 18-20 who either skipped breakfast, consumed a high-protein breakfast consisting of eggs and lean beef, or ate a normal-protein breakfast of ready-to-eat cereal. Each breakfast consisted of 350 calories and was matched for dietary fat, fiber, sugar and energy density, but the high-protein breakfast contained 35 grams of protein, Leidy said.
Study participants completed questionnaires and provided blood samples throughout the day. Prior to dinner, functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans were performed to track brain signals that control food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior, Leidy said.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found the consumption of the high-protein breakfast led to increased fullness or "satiety" along with reductions in brain activity responsible for controlling food cravings.
The high-protein breakfast also reduced evening snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods, the study said.
"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," Leidy said in a statement. "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."
Funding for the research was provided by the Beef Check-off and the Egg Nutrition Center/American Egg Board.