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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Could a bigger breakfast lead to a smaller you?

Monday, February 26, 2018
Breakfast used to be such a big deal. For the first meal of the day people routinely reached for a frypan, eggs, perhaps even a steak, and toast too. Then some (now somewhat discredited) scientific research emerged claiming that eating eggs and steak would clog your arteries, so we were advised to reach for a packet of processed breakfast cereal instead. As a result, many frypans were reluctantly despatched to the back of the kitchen cabinet.

As the years passed, a bowl of cereal became the new normal. But curiously, our population didn’t get healthier. Instead, rates of diabetes and obesity began to soar to epidemic numbers. Could there be a connection with that breakfast change?

The nutritional science boffins at CSIRO investigated and concluded that the traditional protein based breakfast should have continued, and that you can help yourself lose weight by dusting off the cookware to create a bigger, more sustaining breakfast. Seems paradoxical, doesn’t it – eat a bigger breakfast to become a smaller size. But there’s some solid science behind it:

High quality animal protein is unique in that the molecules it’s made of are structurally pretty stiff. They take a lot of digestive enzymes and mechanical stomach action to break down, and this takes time. Extracting energy from eggs, meat, fish or chicken is slower than the speedy-energy-release breakfast cereal. That means your blood glucose level rises slowly too, providing sustained energy.  This keeps your appetite in check, making it less likely you’ll crave a sweet something mid-morning.

Curiously, that better (protein) breakfast even affects how you feel by mid-afternoon, helping you avoid the 3pm energy crash (which can also prompt you to seek out a sweet something to munch on) The end result of that good quality breakfast is less sugar in your diet overall.

Preparing that better breakfast takes much less time than you’d think, providing you’re willing to think ahead a little. Here’s an idea: Hard boil eggs the night before, and in the morning use them as toast toppers with hummus and slices of fresh tomato. In the cooler weather try leftover meat stew or savoury mince on toast. If you have the time, a vegetable fry-up in olive oil with a couple of eggs added is delicious. 

If you want to review the scientist’s reasoning, their report about why we need more protein is available on their website. Google “CSIRO protein report”.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy "Is a High Protein Diet Safe?"

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