Benefits of a high-protein breakfast

Why is a High-protein breakfast considered healthy?

This post discusses the benefits of a high-protein breakfast

You would have heard of various popular quotes, like “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” and “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. These adages hold true to this day – a healthy, balanced breakfast is essential for you to navigate through the entire day. Hence, it is important to know what to eat for breakfast – and what not to eat.

Why breakfast?

When you retire for the day, your body enters a state of fasting – meaning you are essentially fasting for the 8 hours that you spend sleeping. This means that your blood glucose levels – and your energy levels – are extremely low when you wake up the next day. In order to bring your blood glucose levels to normal levels, you need to “break the fasting period” – hence “breakfast”.

When you skip breakfast, your blood sugar levels – which are already low – drop further, causing you to feel dizzy, and even faint in worst-case scenarios. The levels of Ghrelin (hunger-inducing hormones) also increase, inducing sugar cravings. You end up eating empty calories, which are not enough to sustain you throughout the day. Skipping breakfast also causes ulcers.

Are proteins really necessary for breakfast?

Absolutely! A typical meal should have all nutrients in balanced proportions, but increasing the levels of protein in breakfast is essential. Proteins play a vital role in building and repairing muscles, along with regulating blood sugar levels and body weight.

Proteins and weight loss

Protein plays a major role in healthy weight loss. Proteins are a much more complex macronutrient when compared to carbohydrates and fatty acids, meaning that we need to spend a very large amount of calories to metabolise proteins to their simpler version – amino acids. When your breakfast is high in proteins, your body uses up the calories stored in the form of fats to metabolise the proteins consumed. Also, the entire process of protein metabolism is longer – meaning that you won’t get hungry soon, and you end up craving snacks – empty calories – less.

Proteins and cravings

Craving is a natural response by the body when certain nutrients – especially macronutrients – are lacking in the diet. The next time you crave sweets, try checking your blood glucose levels – chances are that they may be low.

When you skip breakfast, your brain detects the low levels of glucose in your blood. It then produces Ghrelin, also known as hunger hormones, in response. This hormone in turn acts on the digestive tract and induces hunger. Since the macronutrient missing here is carbohydrates, your brain subconsciously craves something that would quickly increase your blood sugar levels – sugary foods!

Compared to carbohydrates and fatty acids, proteins are complex macronutrients – they take a long time to be broken down by our body into amino acids, and consume a very large amount of calories in the metabolism process. Hence, digestion also takes a longer time, and you won’t feel hungry for a longer time. This increases the production of the hormone Leptin, which sends a signal to the brain that the nutritional requirements are sated, or in simple words, that the body is “full”.

Which protein is better?

Plant protein, or animal protein? Many are starting to question the pros and cons of either protein. While both proteins are essentially the same at molecular levels, our body metabolises these proteins quite differently.

Animal proteins (like meat and eggs) are easier to digest when compared to plant proteins. This is because the proteins are in their simpler forms – along with glycogen (the starch present in the muscles of animals), they are digested with ease.

In contrast, plant proteins (like lentils and nuts) possess a more complex structure, and in addition, are rich in fibre. Because of this, our body takes a longer time to metabolise plant proteins.

At first glance, it may seem like animal proteins are a better option. However, physicians agree that plant protein has a positive impact on digestion, blood glucose regulation and weight management. As mentioned earlier, a high-protein breakfast keeps you sated for a longer period of time. Likewise, a breakfast rich in plant proteins keeps you feeling full for even longer, and is more effective in curbing cravings. Research also shows that plant protein helps in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Plus, plant proteins are rich in fibre, which aids in healthy bowel movements. For those seeking to burn more calories, a plant protein-based breakfast is more effective.

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