Nutrition Unscrambled

Experimental Biology 2012

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
April 27th, 2012

The ENC team just returned from Experimental Biology (EB) in San Diego. This was my first EB- if you have never been it is crazy starting with the giant book you receive at check-in. A fellow tweeter said “pace yourself” and this was a great piece of advice for this conference! Protein was a hot topic in the American Society of Nutrition (ASN) section. In addition, I loved seeing the variety of research posters presented (including those by researchers conducting ENC related research). Here was a press release from the event.
Fast forward to Friday after the conference, my brain is still full of new information and things to check out. More blog posts to come on research topics.

What’s on Your Plate Day! Here’s What is on Ours….

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
March 8th, 2012

As a representative of the Egg Nutrition Center for the Strategic Partnership for the program, I signed up to show everyone what I eat. It sounds so simple, right? On March 8 National What’s On Your Plate Day, just spread the word about how to eat using as a template. Yet, just thinking about how to show a healthy diet can be difficult when reality hits. Do I really eat all my meals on a plate? Do I really eat only at meal time? What about my beverages and that mouthful of nuts? What about when I go to meetings, dinner with friends or business associates? By the third picture of my meals, my husband had already asked me to stop taking pictures claiming it was disturbing his dinner! So, in an effort to come clean about what a 33 year veteran of the American Dietetics Association, now the Academy of Dietetics really eats, I am fessing up on national What’s On Your Plate Day, March 8, 2012.

Breakfast: My favorite breakfast: warm hard boiled eggs with orange slices and Greek yogurt. Add a cup of coffee and I’m good to go. This is my power breakfast because it gets me through the morning, including exercise at the gym and satisfied until about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. It even looks bright and sunny.

Lunch: Melted open faced sliced turkey with aged provolone cheese sandwich with sugar snap peas. I love this lunch because it’s quick and I adore the melted cheese flavor along with the sweet crispness of the peas. Finished with multiple cups of rooibos tea and I’m set. Only one dish to clean up!

Dinner with my husband, I tried a new recipe: shrimp in lime and coconut sauce garnished with cilantro. In addition I served a spoonful of jasmine rice and lots of mushrooms and roasted asparagus on the side for color and a taste of spring. My husband suggested taking off the “green stuff” to improve the look of the meal but that’s why he’s not a 33 year veteran of ADA! Add in a glass of white wine and that’s my day’s meals. I have a new appreciation for food stylists, I doubt anyone would make this meal if it was in a cookbook! After dinner, I confess, I did sneak into the kitchen for handful of almonds and tea before bed but no one’s perfect!!

Happy 1st Anniversary to Nutrition Unscrambled

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
January 12th, 2012

We hope you’ve enjoyed our blogs and found the information useful in your practices and even perhaps your own lives.  Marcia mentioned some of the trends for 2011 in her blog post and I wanted to share some other exciting highlights.

So now I am asking you, our readers:  What do you want to know more about in 2012?

Nutrition Unscrambled 1st Anniversary

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
January 11th, 2012

Turning the page on the calendar and starting a new year makes one pause and think about all that seemed so important in the prior year. Nutrition is an evolving science. We often feel sure that eating according to the currently accepted guidance will help us maintain good health, until research contradicts that guidance the following year.

In 2011, Nutrition Unscrambled began the discussion of how to incorporate the 10 most healthful foods into your diet and continued with that theme throughout the year. More and more the research appears to show that adding protein at breakfast and spacing protein intake throughout the day is the secret to improving your body composition and maintaining a healthy weight.

Throughout the year we shared recipes and tips to use eggs for building a healthy diet. Nutrition Unscrambled continued a focus on how eggs can be included in healthy meal patterns and shared these messages at health professional conferences, at family mealtime and when refueling after exercise.

In 2012, Nutrition Unscrambled will continue to provide informative discussions about trends in nutrition and healthy meal planning. We hope to bring more research driven discussions, more varied perspectives on nutrition from experts who practice in different health professions and more insights into how to inform and motivate the public about healthy eating.

Thanks again to all our readers!

Interesting Headlines: Cereal? Cookies? Oh,What’s the Diff and What’s in Your Kitchen

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
December 16th, 2011

Two headlines in the past week are great reminders to include eggs to start your day!

Bittman’s cereal article states “Every parent of a child born in the US since 1950 knows the difficulty of getting that kid to eat a breakfast of real food.” I sadly concur that there is truth to this statement, especially the part about real food.

The article references a recent document from the Environmental Working Group. One of the sections basically shows the comparison that many children’s cereals have higher sugar content than “junk food desserts”. My recent blog highlighted the 3rd International Forum on Food and Nutrition with the theme “The Importance of a healthy Diet During Childhood” where the issues of high sugar and food advertising were discussed-refer to Dr. Lustig and Dr. Nestle’s presentations and my blog post for more information, if you haven’t checked it out.

We do know that consumption of sugar is higher than recommended in the US. The Executive Summary for the Dietary Guidelines reports that sugars contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in American diets. Kids and adults alike consume much more than this average. It is also recommended that for most people, no more than about 5 to 15 percent of calories from solid fats and added sugars can be reasonably accommodated in the USDA Food Patterns, which are designed to meet nutrient needs within calorie limits. The AHA Scientific statement on Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health lists the following health concerns with high sugar intake: insulin resistance, higher caloric intake, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and cholesterol, chronic hyperinsulinemia and low intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber:

On the other hand the blog titled “What’s in Your Kitchen” reports that 9 out of 10 houses have eggs in their refrigerators. So what’s is the link? People already have a great breakfast food at their fingertips. Eggs are an inexpensive, convenient, quick, and healthy breakfast food (with varying amounts of naturally occurring essential vitamins and minerals). Another perk-they don’t have sugar. With the sugar concerns, why not consider encouraging eggs as a great breakfast food. For that matter, they can be a great anytime food! They don’t have to be difficult or time consuming to make. Remember to check the American Egg Board website for recipes. Here are some 3 minute breakfast recipes (maybe slightly longer than pouring a bowl of sugary cereal, but with great benefits).

Happy Thanksgiving from ENC

By Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN
November 22nd, 2011

We wanted to take a moment and thank our readers! We are thankful to be able to educate and work with each of you.

Last week I blogged about eating around the holidays, so I thought I’d send a gentle reminder about not skipping breakfast by providing you with great egg breakfast recipes. If you haven’t made breakfast plans, there are plenty of ideas here! Even health professionals who understand the importance of breakfast need to be reminded not to skip breakfast on those days where we are busy (preparing for our “feast”).

Remember to get moving! Take a walk with the family, play football outside or even get active with WII. My gym is actually open on Thanksgiving morning and they are having a “Get Pumping” class.

Everyone have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving and don’t forget to take some time and reflect on what you’re thankful for!

Beat the Sleep after the Thanksgiving Feast

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
November 21st, 2011

The common wisdom at Thanksgiving is that the amino acid tryptophan, found in turkey, is responsible for the sleepy feeling one gets after the big meal. Well, new research completed at the University of Cambridge focused on the post prandial effects of different macronutrients has found it may be the carbohydrates, rather than the proteins in meals, that make us more lethargic and less efficient calorie burners. The research, published in the scientific journal Neuron, has implications for understanding obesity and sleep disorders.

Wakefulness and energy expenditure rely on “orexin cells”, which secrete a stimulant called orexin hypocretin in the brain. Reduced activity in these unique cells results in narcolepsy and has been linked to weight gain. By highlighting these cells with genetically targeted fluorescence in mouse brains, and then introducing different nutrients such as amino acid mixtures similar to egg whites, while tracking orexin cell impulses, the researchers found amino acids stimulate orexin cells. Previous work by the group found that glucose blocks orexin cells (which was cited as a reason for after-meal sleepiness), and so the researchers also looked at interactions between sugar and protein. They found that amino acids stop glucose from blocking orexin cells (in other words, protein negated the effects of sugar on the cells).

So, the implications of this research are, if you’re trying to stay focused on the road after the big meal, cut down on the potatoes, dressing and pie and go for the turkey, ham and oysters at Thanksgiving dinner. In addition, this research suggests you consider replacing the donut, sugary cereal and sweet roll at your daily breakfast meal before work or school and eat more of the protein foods like eggs, ham, milk and cheese to be the most efficient and focused throughout the day.

A new look at middle aged weight gain

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
October 18th, 2011

Books about middle age weight gain or abdominal fat accumulation, as it’s known in professional circles, are flying off the shelves as a record number of the US population enters their golden years. This generation, brought up on the fat phobic diet that made fat intake of any kind an inexcusable excess, is now seeing the result of this mistaken dietary guidance. By avoiding the demonized macronutrient (fat) in an effort to avoid heart disease in later life, today’s baby boomers may have set themselves up for sarcopenia or age related muscle loss and the dangerous abdominal fat accumulation, a contributor to heart disease. How is this possible? The answer lies in the unintended consequence of reducing protein intake while avoiding fat.

During the years 1970-2000, Americans were advised to lower their fat intake which resulted in reducing intake of foods high in protein like beef, pork, eggs, milk and butter. The assumption had been and still remains, that Americans consume a surplus of protein and protein recommendation need only keep Americans from negative protein balance. Optimal protein intake for supporting health was not a goal. However, recent research is beginning to accumulate which indicates a role of protein, in particular the level of specific branch chain amino acids (BCAA) in proteins, that is associated with a lower prevalence of obesity and overweight in middle age adults.

A recent study published in Journal Nutrition1, looked at the association between BCAA intake and the risk of overweight/obesity status in a cohort of 4429 Asian and Western adults. The study was a part of a larger International Study of Macro-/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure Study (INTERMAP) which did not include any intervention in the methodology other than recording dietary recall and 24 hr. urinary measurement. Results confirm the hypothesis that across an international population, dietary intake of branch chain amino acid intake was inversely associated with prevalence of overweight status amongst healthy middle age adults and with the prevalence of obesity in Western adults. These results confirm earlier animal studies that have found higher leucine intake (BCAA) associated with lower body weight and fat mass gain.

1 Qin, LQ et al. J. Nutr. 141:249-254, 2011

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2011. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,

Increased Dietary Protein & Breakfast Consumption-Effects on Appetite, Satiety, and Reward-driven Eating Behavior

By Mitch Kanter, Ph.D.
August 4th, 2011

Hi Readers -  I’m honored to let you know that Dr. Heather Leidy is blogging today regarding research .

- Mitch

Two key forces exist which act against our desire to be healthy and manage body weight.  First, we have internal ‘physiological’ signals which respond to energy restriction, dieting, and weight loss and lead to increased hunger and reductions in fullness (satiety).   Many individuals respond to these signals and eat in excess, leading to the prevention of sustained weight loss and/or obesity.  We are also constantly bombarded by the modern food environment containing food-centered advertisements and easy access to highly palatable, energy dense, sugar-laden snacks.  This type of environment shifts our eating away from physiological need towards reward-driven over-eating. 

To add to the problem, many Americans follow unhealthy dietary practices further intensifying these behaviors.  One in particular is the now-common habit of skipping breakfast which is strongly associated with over-eating/snacking (especially in the evening), weight gain, and obesity.  Fortunately, there are several dietary strategies that have been implemented to target and prevent both types of eating behavior.  These include increased dietary protein and breakfast consumption.

We’ve published several articles focusing on the beneficial effects of a modest increase in protein intake (1-4).   Through these studies, we found that an increase in protein consumption from 15% of daily intake to 25-30% of intake leads to improvements in appetite control and satiety(1-4).  In fact, a higher protein diet, containing lean meat and eggs, leads to increased fullness throughout the day and reduced desire to eat and preoccupation with thoughts of food throughout the evening hours compared to a normal protein diet—even during weight loss(1,3).   It is quite clear that a diet containing an increase in dietary protein, still well-within the dietary guidelines, is beneficial for appetite control. 

Based on this data as well as the negative outcomes associated with breakfast skipping, we are now focusing on the daily addition of a protein-rich breakfast in those who skip the morning meal.  We recently report that  skipping breakfast leads to greater hunger and reduced satiety (i.e., fullness) throughout the morning hours, leading to a greater amount of food consumed at lunch time compared to a normal protein breakfast5.  We also found that eating a higher protein breakfast (38% of the meal as high quality dairy and egg protein, 49 g) leads to even greater benefits by further reducing appetite and subsequent food intake.   

In our most recent study6, we focused on whether breakfast would actually alter food-related brain activation known to stimulate reward-driven eating behavior.  In this study, ‘breakfast skippers’ consumed meals containing either normal quantities of protein or higher protein (i.e., 40% of the meal as dairy and egg protein).  Compared to breakfast skipping, the consumption of both types of breakfast meals led to reductions in brain activation patterns in regions controlling appetite, motivation to eat, and food reward.  The higher protein breakfast led to even greater reductions in these activations compared to the normal protein breakfast.  These data suggest that incorporating a healthy breakfast containing protein-rich foods may be a simple dietary strategy to improve appetite control and prevent over-eating.


1Leidy HJ, et al.  2007  Higher protein intake preserves lean mass & satiety with weight loss in pre-obese & obese women.  Obesity 15:421-429.

2Leidy HJ, et al.   2007 Effects of acute & chronic protein intake on metabolism, appetite & ghrelin during weight loss. Obesity.  15:1215-25.

3Leidy HJ, et al.  2011 The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men.  Obesity; 19 (4):  818-824.

4Leidy HJ, et al.  2010 The influence of higher protein intake and greater eating frequency on appetite control in overweight and obese men.  Obesity;  18(9):  1725-1732.

5Leidy HJ & Racki EM.  2010  The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effects on acute appetite control and food intake in `breakfast-skipping’ adolescents.  International Journal of Obesity.  34(7):  1125-1133.

6Leidy HJ, et al. 2011 Neural responses to visual food stimuli after normal vs. higher protein breakfast in breakfast-skipping teens-a pilot fMRI study.  Obesity; EPUB ahead of Print.  doi:10.1038/oby.2011.108

PROTEIN AT BREAKFAST: The most important part of the most important meal

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
June 17th, 2011

Hi Readers!  Today we have one of our Registered Dietitian Advisors, Keith Ayoob, blogging.  Enjoy!


You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It’s true for everyone, and especially for kids.  There’s also plenty of science to back it up.  Kids who eat breakfast do better in school.  They also miss fewer days from school and are more likely to have a normal body weight. 

Many adults skip breakfast and even when they don’t, their breakfast tends to run more towards coffee and a roll and butter.  Not much protein at all and that’s how they’re starting their day, setting themselves up for a possible crash mid-morning and real hunger pangs by lunch, which may also be skipped. 

Biggest complaint about not eating breakfast is a lack of time.  As a nutritionist working with families and kids, honestly, I have a rough time with this one.  Breakfast is just too important to dismiss casually like that.  Funny – parents cringe at the thought of their child going to bed without eating dinner but they often have no problem with a child who skips breakfast.

This needs to change, but so does the way we think of breakfast in general.  Research on adults has shown that people tend to eat about two-thirds of their protein at dinner and only about 10% of it at breakfast.  That’s a concern, because the first meal of the day should contain at least as much protein as the dinner meal.  Not to say that people should be eating more protein overall, just spreading it out more evenly.  A third of your day’s protein should come at breakfast.  There’s evidence showing that people will utilize protein more efficiently, that is, for muscle growth and repair, if protein is more evenly distributed.  About a third of a day’s supply at each meal would do it. 

Protein: nature’s appetite regulator

Protein tends to help you feel full and satisfied, less hungry.  It does this in two ways: by blunting the rise in blood sugar and by staying in your stomach for longer, because it takes the body longer to digest it. 

I have a hectic life, too.  I don’t always know when I’m going to get to lunch but I’m sensitive to hunger pangs like anyone else.  As long as I get enough protein in the morning, the timing of my next meal can be a bit more flexible – as it may need to be. 

Recommendations are for between 10-35% of your calories from protein, so it’s not likely you’ll get too much protein, especially if you think of just shifting some of your protein from dinner to breakfast.  Aim for leaner protein foods to keep calories reasonable. 

 My favorites at breakfast

Cereal is often a typical at breakfast food and you don’t have to give it up to get more protein.  Indeed, whole grain cereal is a good way to get fresh fruit and low-fat milk into your diet and you need these foods.  I think of this breakfast as only a start however.  That’s right.  Add at least an ounce of lean protein to kick this breakfast into full steam.  Here are some of my favorite protein-boosting breakfast foods:

  • Hard-cooked eggs.  A total go-to food.  They’re fast, easy, and give me great protein and nutrition in the morning.  I keep a bowl in the fridge at all times and it’s a top-notch grab-and-go protein boost.  Yes, they’re absolutely OK every day.
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt.  Another great lean protein food, just pricier.
  • Low-fat cottage cheese.  It’s not “girl food”.  Check the label.  It’s protein-loaded and ready when you are.
  • Leftover dinner.  Not a big meal, just add that leftover chicken drumstick or slice of roast beef.

If you add one of the above to your usual bowl of cereal/fruit/milk, you’ll not only stay full for longer, you’ll get protein when your body actually needs more of it – first thing in the morning. 

- Keith


Nutrition Unscrambled  is written by nutrition experts with the Egg Nutrition Center, which is funded by the American Egg Board. It is monitored and maintained by the public relations agency of record. The mission of the Egg Nutrition Center is to be a credible source of nutrition and health science information and the acknowledged leader in research and education related to eggs. For more information, click here.

About the Bloggers

Mitch Kanter, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about
Mitch, click here.
Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD is the Senior Director, Nutrition Education at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Marcia, click here.
Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN is the Program Manager, Nutrition Research and Communications at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Anna, click here.

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All information provided within this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and it is not to be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your physician or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or before making changes to your diet or health behaviors.