Higher Protein Breakfast Reduces Hunger in Kids

Children having breakfast in the kitchen

If protein at breakfast shows benefits, it may help manage or prevent overweight in kids.

Researchers at the University of Arkansas were interested in weight-related physiologic effects of high carbohydrate and high protein breakfasts among school aged kids. In focusing on kids, they noted that “In the U.S. 32% of children are overweight and 17% obese. Obesity is a major public health concern, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia.” [Baum, 2015] As communities and healthcare professionals look for solutions to the obesity problem, researchers are also working to discover ways to address the issue. Breakfast has been the subject of several studies related to weight loss and maintenance.

The study by Baum and colleagues compared the effects of a protein-based breakfast (PRO) with a carbohydrate-based breakfast (CHO) on postprandial energy metabolism, substrate oxidation, hunger and food intake at lunch in 16 normal weight and 13 overweight/obese children 8-12 years of age.

On 2 different days, in a randomized, crossover design, students were served either a PRO breakfast (344 kcal, 21% protein, 52% carbohydrate, and 27% fat) or CHO breakfast (327 kcal, 4% protein, 67% carbohydrate, and 29% fat). The PRO meal consisted of 1 egg and 2 egg whites, 5 g butter, 118 mL orange juice, and 2 slices of white bread. The CHO meal consisted of 1 frozen waffle, 10 g butter, 30 mL maple syrup, and 118 mL orange juice.

Energy expenditure (EE), substrate oxidation, appetite, and blood glucose were measured over a 4-hour period after which the participants were provided with access to a lunch buffet and food intake was recorded.

Results showed:

Participants had decreased hunger (-14%), increased fullness (+32%), decreased desire to eat (-30%), and decreased prospective food consumption (-10%) after the PRO compared to the CHO breakfast, independent of body weight.

The PRO breakfast resulted in greater appetite control and satiety than did the CHO meal.

Additionally, overweight children consuming the PRO breakfast had significantly higher postprandial EEs at each time point than normal weight children eating either type of breakfast.

“Fat oxidation was 16% higher (P < 0.05) after consumption of PRO than CHO [breakfast], independent of weight group.” “Postprandial carbohydrate oxidation at 4 hours was 32% higher after the PRO than the CHO (P < 0.01), independent of weight group.”

There was no effect of breakfast type or body weight over time for blood glucose.

There was no significant effect of breakfast type on energy intake at lunch within either the normal or overweight groups. However, the overweight group had significantly higher energy intake at lunch (1036 ± 97 kcal vs. 707 ± 97 kcal), independent of the breakfast type consumed, than did the normal weight group

The authors concluded that a PRO breakfast compared with a CHO breakfast, decreased postprandial hunger and increased satiety in both normal and overweight children and increased postprandial EE and substrate oxidation, especially in overweight children.

“Taken together, these data suggest that increasing protein and reducing carbohydrate at breakfast could lead to increased satiety and energy expenditure, which potentially could lead to weight reduction over time.”


Reference Citation

Baum, JI, Gray, M and Binns, A. “Breakfasts Higher in Protein Increase Postprandial Energy Expenditure, Increase Fat Oxidation, and Reduce Hunger in Overweight Children from 8 to 12 Years of Age” J Nutr 2015;145:2229–35.

Neva-Cochran-140x140Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD, FAND is a nutrition communications specialist and is part of the Egg Nutrition Center Health Professional Advisory Board for which she receives compensation in exchange for contributing to this blog. However, all opinions reflected in this post are the authors.

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