Adding this to breakfast keeps you feeling full and boosts concentration

AARHUS, Denmark — We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Now, researchers from Aarhus University have come up with the most important menu for breakfast. Their study finds that rich sources of protein are a key component of an ideal breakfast. Study authors say a protein-rich breakfast promotes both improved satiety (feeling full and satisfied) and concentration throughout the remainder of the day.

Researchers originally set out to examine the link connecting diet and cognition. More specifically, do different types of breakfast affect satiety and concentration?

To that end, the project entailed tracking 30 obese women (ages 18-30) for three full days. During that period, the women ate either a protein-rich breakfast, a carbohydrate-rich breakfast, or no breakfast at all. The research team also measured each woman’s sense of satiety, hormone levels and energy intake at lunchtime, in addition to total daily energy intake assessments. Finally, all participants completed a cognitive concentration test.

“We found that a protein-rich breakfast with skyr (a sour-milk product) and oats increased satiety and concentration in the participants, but it did not reduce the overall energy intake compared to skipping breakfast or eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast,” says Mette Hansen, an associate professor and PhD at the Department of Public Health and one of the authors of the study, in a media release.

It’s no secret that obesity rates continue to climb all over the world. Obesity, of course, is frequently a prelude to lifestyle-related disease like Type 2 diabetes. Prior research indicates people who habitually eat breakfast have a lower BMI than people who avoid breakfast. Protein-rich foods, meanwhile, tend to increase satiety in comparison to carbohydrate-rich and high-fat foods with the same number of calories.

Dad pouring milk into a bowl of breakfast cereal for his daughter
“We found that a protein-rich breakfast with skyr (a sour-milk product) and oats increased satiety and concentration in the participants,” researchers say. (© Prostock-studio –

So, study authors decided to test if a protein-rich breakfast could help facilitate greater satiety during the day, subsequently reducing daily calorie intake. Unfortunately, the solution isn’t that simple, researchers caution.

“The results confirm that protein-rich meals increase a sense of satiety, which is positive with regard to preventing weight gain. However, the results also suggest that for this nutritional strategy to be effective, it’s not enough to just eat a protein-rich breakfast,” Prof. Hansen comments.

Still, the benefits of replacing a carbohydrate-rich diet with a protein-rich diet is clearly evident in the satiating effects measured in this study. Several study participants reported having a hard time eating the entire protein-rich breakfast, consisting of skyr and oats.

“It’s intriguing that there can be such a big difference in the satiety effect of two different meals with the same calorie content. Had the women in the project been allowed to choose the size of the meal themselves, it’s likely that they’d have consumed more food and thereby more calories on the day they were served bread and jam than on the day they were given skyr and oats,” Prof. Hansen explains.

According to Prof. Hansen, although this work provides key insights, it also had its fair share of limitations due to the inclusion of only overweight young women. This project was also based on relatively short-term observations, which means the question of how long-term dietary changes can affect health and weight remains unanswered. So, researchers stress the need for further research aimed at forming a better understanding of how different types of food affect health over time.

“We already have new data incoming from a trial where participants received either a high-protein breakfast or a low-protein breakfast. The objective was to study how the different types of breakfast affect body composition and other parameters such as microbiota and cholesterol levels,” Prof. Hansen concludes.

The study is published in the Journal of Dairy Science.

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About the Author

John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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