Teens, Don’t Skip Breakfast — Go for the Protein

Breakfasts high in protein may help manage weight in overweight teens

Young and overweight? Skipping breakfast may not be helping you.

A new study from the University of Missouri (MU) found that overweight teens who ate breakfasts packed with protein — when compared to skipping altogether — lost more body fat, had fewer sensations of hunger and ate less overall each day.

"This study examined if the type of breakfast consumed can improve weight management in young people who habitually skip breakfast," said lead study author Heather Leidy, PhD, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU, in a press release. "Generally, people establish eating behaviors during their teen years. If teens are able to develop good eating habits now, such as eating breakfast, it’s likely to continue the rest of their lives."

Dr. Leidy and team looked at whether the type of breakfasts teens ate had an effect on health and weight gain.

Two groups of overweight teens were fed two types of breakfasts — normal-protein or high-protein — over the course of 12 weeks. Both groups reported skipping breakfast between five and seven times a week.

A third group continued to skip breakfast for the 12 weeks.

Normal-protein breakfasts consisted of milk and cereal, and contained 13 grams of protein.

High-protein breakfasts consisted of eggs, dairy and lean pork, and contained 35 grams of protein.

The high-protein breakfasts were linked to an overall reduction in body mass index (BMI) and food intake, as well as more stable blood sugar levels.

Body mass index is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

"The group of teens who ate high-protein breakfasts reduced their daily food intake by 400 calories and lost body fat mass, while the groups who ate normal-protein breakfast or continued to skip breakfast gained additional body fat," Dr. Leidy said. "These results show that when individuals eat a high-protein breakfast, they voluntarily consume less food the rest of the day. In addition, teens who ate high-protein breakfast had more stable glucose levels than the other groups."

This study was published Aug. 4 in the journal Obesity.

The National Pork Board funded this research. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.