High-Protein Breakfast Helps Prevent Unhealthy Snacking Later, Study Says

03/28/2013 02:56 pm ET

Your mom was right, breakfast is the most important meal of the day -- and a new study reveals a very important element you should include in your a.m. meal.

According to a new study published in he American Journal of Clinical Nutrition people who enjoy breakfasts high in protein are less likely to consume foods high in fat or sugar later in the evening.

For the study, 20 overweight or obese women between ages 18 to 20 consumed a breakfast high in protein (35 grams) with eggs and lean beef, low in protein (13 grams) with cereal, or skipped the meal altogether for six days.

On day seven of the experiment, the participants were asked to fill out appetite and satiety questionnaires and also had blood samples drawn. The researchers also examined their brain activity with fMRI brain scans.

The researchers found that the participants who had eaten breakfast felt fuller later on than those who had skipped breakfast. The consumption of breakfast also resulted in a reduction in brain activity responsible for the control of food cravings. Eating a high-protein breakfast also impacted snacking on high-fat or high-sugar foods in the evening, compared with skipping breakfast or eating cereal.

"Eating a protein-rich breakfast impacts the drive to eat later in the day, when people are more likely to consume high-fat or high-sugar snacks," study researcher Heather Leidy, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri, said in a statement. "These data suggest that eating a protein-rich breakfast is one potential strategy to prevent overeating and improve diet quality by replacing unhealthy snacks with high quality breakfast foods."

The findings are important, as mindful eating strategies emerge as useful tools for combating overweight and obesity.

According to a 2011 survey, as many as 31 million people in the U.S. skip breakfast each day, with men ages 18 to 34 being the most likely to skip breakfast.

For more reasons to eat breakfast, click through the slideshow:

Breakfast Eaters...

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