Protein is a key nutrient for weight loss.
In fact, adding more protein to your diet is the easiest and most effective way to lose weight.
Studies show that protein can help curb your appetite and keep you from overeating.
Therefore, starting your day with a high-protein breakfast may be an effective weight loss tip.
Should You Eat Breakfast?
In the past, skipping breakfast has been associated with weight gain.
This may also depend on the quality of the breakfast. Even if the stereotypical breakfast (like high-sugar breakfast cereal) has no effect on weight, a breakfast that is high in weight loss friendly protein may have different effects.
Bottom Line: Recommendations to eat or skip breakfast have no effect on weight. However, the same may not apply to a high-protein breakfast.
How Protein Helps You Lose Weight
Protein is the single most important nutrient for weight loss.
One study in women showed that increasing protein intake from 15 to 30% of total calories helped them eat 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds (5 kg) in just 12 weeks (9).
Another study found that increasing protein to 25% of total calories reduced late-night snacking by half and obsessive thoughts about food by 60% (10).
In yet another study, two groups of women were put on weight loss diets for 10 weeks. The groups ate the same amount of calories, but different amounts of protein.
Bottom Line: Adding protein to your diet is a very effective way to lose weight. It may also help dieters sustain long-term weight loss.
High-Protein Breakfasts Help You Eat Less Later
Many studies are examining how protein at breakfast affects eating behavior.
Protein also helps you feel full. This is because it activates the body’s signals that curb appetite, which reduces cravings and overeating.
Bottom Line: High-protein breakfasts reduce calorie intake later in the day. They improve the levels of your appetite-regulating hormones, leading to reduced hunger and cravings.
How Protein at Breakfast Helps You Lose Weight and Belly Fat
High-protein breakfasts can reduce appetite and cravings. They may also help you lose belly fat.
One study of obese, Chinese teens showed that replacing a grain-based breakfast with an egg-based meal led to significantly more weight loss over 3 months.
The higher-protein breakfast group lost 3.9% of their body weight (about 2.4 kg or 5.3 lbs), while the lower-protein group lost only 0.2% (0.1 kg or 0.2 lbs) (23).
In another study, people on a weight loss program received either an egg breakfast or a bagel breakfast with the same amount of calories.
After 8 weeks, those eating the egg breakfast had a 61% higher reduction in BMI, 65% more weight loss and a 34% greater reduction in waist measurements (25).
Bottom Line: Eating protein for breakfast can lead to significant weight loss, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose.
Protein May Slightly Boost Your Metabolism
Speeding up your metabolism can help you lose weight, as it makes you burn more calories.
Your body uses much more calories to metabolize protein (20-30%) than carbs (5-10%) or fat (0-3%) (4).
A high protein diet can also help prevent muscle loss during calorie restriction, and partly prevent the reduction in metabolism that often comes with weight loss, often referred to as “starvation mode” (11, 30, 31, 32, 33).
Bottom Line: A high protein intake has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 100 calories per day. It can also help you maintain muscle mass and a high metabolism when you restrict calories.
Which High-Protein Foods Should You Eat For Breakfast?
In short, EGGS.
Eggs are incredibly nutritious and high in protein. Replacing a grain-based breakfast with eggs has been shown to help you eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours and lose more weight and body fat (4, 11, 15).
For a complete list of high-protein foods, read this article.
Here are a few examples of high-protein breakfasts that can help you lose weight:
- Scrambled eggs: with veggies, fried in coconut oil or olive oil.
- An omelette: with cottage cheese and spinach (my personal favorite).
- Stir-fried tofu: with kale and dairy-free cheese.
- Greek yogurt: with wheat germ, seeds and berries.
- A shake: one scoop of whey protein, a banana, frozen berries and almond milk.
Protein pancakes are also a very popular breakfast food at the moment.
Bottom Line: Eggs make a great, high-protein breakfast. However, other high-protein breakfast foods are also good choices.
If You Eat Breakfast, Make it High in Protein
If you do choose to eat breakfast, eat one that is rich in protein.
The protein content of the breakfast meals in the studies above ranged from 18 to 41% of calories, with at least 20 total grams of protein.
To read more about the health benefits of protein, check out this article: 10 Science-Backed Reasons to Eat More Protein.