The Best Breakfast to Curb Cravings

By Melissa Walker for
A new study shows that the key to staving off hunger is a high protein breakfast. (Yes, that does mean eggs and sausage.)

The Best Breakfast to Curb Cravings

We’ve all heard that skipping breakfast is bad for us from our moms to the media. And there are good reasons why you should grab a bite to eat on your way out the door. Ditching the first meal of the day has been linked to everything from high cholesterol levels to large waist sizes.

"When we skip breakfast, we have elevations in morning and afternoon hunger, plus a desire to eat and a reduced fullness or satiety," says Heather Liedy, Ph.D., assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri. "We also have elevations in ghrelin, a hormone known to increase hunger, and reductions in PYY, a hormone known to increase satiety." As if that weren’t enough, skipping breakfast makes the regions in your brain that control cravings more active in the evening.

Liedy is the author of a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that not only reinforces the findings that skipping breakfast is a bad idea, but also shows that high protein breakfasts are the way to go. That means wait for it eggs and sausage! (Well, lean sausage, but still.)

"The high protein breakfast meals in our study included two ounces of lean beef and two servings of eggs," explains Liedy. These were in the form of a breakfast burrito or an egg-based waffle with lean beef sausage. In contrast with low-protein breakfast eaters, who had two cups of ready-to-eat cereal with three-quarters of a cup of milk, the women who consumed the high protein breakfasts felt less hungry in the morning and afternoon.

The takeaway? While grabbing a low protein breakfast is better than nothing at all, a high protein meal gives you lasting satiety all day and decreases cravings in the evening. "A high protein breakfast reduces unhealthy snacking by approximately 200 kcal," says Liedy. Not too shabby for just taking five minutes to put some protein on your plate in the morning.

More From
Skipping Breakfast Linked to Major Health Risks
Breakfast Tips to Lose Weight
Ladies Who Lunch (Light) Weigh Less

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

Keep Reading Show less