Research has shown that approximately 60% of teens regularly skip breakfast. Many healthcare professionals and nutritionists consider breakfast as “the most important meal of the day” and a strategy to reduce the risk of obesity, yet there has been limited research done to look at what type of breakfast plays this role in weight management. It can be very confusing because we are constantly being exposed to the promotion of popular diets that contradict this view, such as intermittent fasting.
Recently, researchers at the University of Missouri compared the benefits of consuming a normal protein breakfast to a high protein breakfast and found that the high-protein breakfast (35 g of protein) prevented weight gain from fat, reduced daily caloric intake, increased satiety, and stabilized blood glucose levels among overweight teens who normally skip breakfast.
Over a 12 week period, the research team fed two groups of overweight teens who reported skipping breakfast either normal protein breakfast meals or high protein breakfast meals. A third group of teens continued to skip breakfast.
As a result, the group who ate high-protein breakfasts reduced their daily food intake by 400 calories and lost body fat mass, while the groups who ate a normal-protein breakfast or continued to skip breakfast gained additional body fat. When individuals eat a high protein breakfast, they voluntarily consume less food throughout the rest of the day. Furthermore, the participants who ate a high-protein breakfast had more stable glucose levels than the other groups.
This was also confirmed in a study I recently came across that showed skipping breakfast promoted unhealthy blood sugar spikes in diabetics. In this study, published in Diabetes Care, researchers found that fasting until noon triggered significant blood sugar spikes and impaired the insulin responses of type 2 diabetics throughout the rest of the day.
The researchers discovered that the pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin can malfunction (similar to losing their memory) due to the overextended period between one evening's dinner and the next day's lunch. As a result, it takes additional time for the beta cells to recover, causing delayed insulin responses and resulting in significantly elevated blood glucose levels throughout the day. In addition, fasting until lunch increases the fatty acids in our blood, which makes insulin ineffective in reducing blood glucose levels. The author also discusses how these large fluctuations in glucose levels are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes among young people.
More and more people – not just teens – are skipping breakfast, which is probably stemming from a combination of busy lifestyles and the intermittent fasting movement. That being said, skipping breakfast is linked to the growing epidemic of obesity and cardiovascular problems as well as a health risk for diabetes.
The key is eating approximately 35 grams of high-quality protein at breakfast. The above mentioned University of Missouri study confirmed that a high protein meal to start the day improved weight management in young people who regularly skip breakfast. With this growing epidemic of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance, it is important to educate teens so they can establish these eating behaviors early on. If they develop good eating habits now, they are much more likely to continue these healthy habits throughout their lives.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN
Source: L B Bauer, L J Reynolds, S M Douglas, M L Kearney, H A Hoertel, R S Shafer, J P Thyfault, H J Leidy. A pilot study examining the effects of consuming a high-protein vs normal-protein breakfast on free-living glycemic control in overweight/obese ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents. International Journal of Obesity, 2015; DOI:10.1038/ijo.2015.101