Want to stop craving snacks and sweets? A high-protein breakfast could help

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What if I told you there was a magical food that would give you the power to walk by an open box of donuts – or a bag of chips, or a bowl of candy – without batting an eye?

Okay. It might not be that magical. But it’s pretty close.

A solid body of research has shown that eating more protein at breakfast can significantly change how we experience hunger throughout the day.

As a nutrition counselor, I can definitely vouch for this effect. When a client comes in saying they’re hungry all the time, craving sweets and relying heavily on snacks to get through the day, the first thing I look at is their protein intake at breakfast.

Americans generally eat more than the recommended amount of daily protein (although we lean a little too heavily on high fat meats and dairy). But what we don’t do is spread our protein intake out throughout the day. We typically eat most of our protein during dinner.

However, studies have shown that if we eat a high-protein breakfast we can improve our sense of fullness and satiety, which can last through the afternoon.

In turn, this contributes to us making healthier choices all day – like forgoing mindless snacking and being less tempted by unhealthy foods when we feel our stomachs grumbling.

How to eat a high-protein breakfast

The research suggests that eating about 30 grams of protein for breakfast can lead to these benefits.

However, I don’t recommend spending too much time trying to crunch the numbers.

Instead, just give some new foods a shot! Try introducing more protein to your breakfast – and even lunch – and see how it affects the way you feel and your appetite throughout the day.

What other benefits come with a high-protein diet?

A high-protein diet means that your daily protein intake is greater than the minimum recommendation of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight – or about 56 grams for an adult weighing 150 lbs.

One of the most common reasons people turn to high-protein diets is for weight loss. And the research does show some promise. Protein also takes more energy to digest than carbs or fat, which can give your metabolism a boost.

After the age of 40, adults can lose 4-6 lbs. of muscle every 10 years. High-protein diets have been shown to help prevent muscle loss, especially when paired with exercise.

That said, most Americans are already consuming a high-protein diet, averaging closer to 1.2-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily – or about 90 grams per day.

Considerations when increasing your protein intake

It’s important to choose your protein sources wisely. Focus on lean meats, fish, beans, lentils, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid processed meats and excessive amounts of red meat.

Also, avoid focusing too narrowly on protein because that can lead to unbalanced dietary patterns. You can’t ignore vegetables, fruits and starches, which provide vitally important vitamins, minerals and fiber.

If you have kidney disease or are at risk of kidney disease (such as having high blood pressure or diabetes), it’s important to talk to your doctor before making a diet change, as increased protein intake can strain the kidneys in certain stages of kidney disease.

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