Egg Nutrition Center Blog

High Protein Breakfast Benefits May Depend on Breakfast Habits


Dr. Heather Leidy writes:  If the effects of breakfast last beyond lunch, it may be influenced by not only the composition of breakfast consumed that day, but also usual breakfast habits.

 Does breakfast improve health? To understand this further, our research team at the University of Missouri tested whether high protein breakfast (40% of energy protein, 40% carbohydrate) compared to high carbohydrate breakfast (15% of energy protein, 65% carbohydrate) improved glycemic control after lunch in overweight/obese teen girls. Results were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Alwattar, 2015).

Improved glucose control after lunch, referred to as the “second meal effect, has been observed in older adults (Jovanovic, 2009a and Jovanovic, 2009b).

However, among teen girls who were habitual breakfast skippers reporting breakfast < 2/week, we observed that blood glucose after lunch was similar, regardless of whether the teens were fed a high protein or a high carbohydrate test breakfast. In other words, type of breakfast did not matter among those who habitually skip breakfast.

Surprisingly, teens breakfast eaters habitually consuming a high carbohydrate breakfast (>80% of energy from carbohydrate) before the study started,

 “exhibited greater reductions in post-lunch glucose following the high protein breakfast compared to the normal protein breakfast.”

Apparently, breakfast skippers respond similarly to lower protein and higher carbohydrate breakfasts. But for those accustomed to eating a high carbohydrate breakfast, switching to higher protein may improve blood glucose response after lunch. Teens habitually consuming higher protein diets were excluded from this study.

It appears that,

“age, habitual breakfast habits, and the size and quantity of the breakfast meal have a significant impact on the second meal phenomenon.”

These findings suggest it wise to consider breakfast habits in research designed to test the health benefits of breakfast.


Reference Citations

Alwattar, AY, JP Thyfault, and HJ Leidy. “The effect of breakfast type and frequency of consumption on glycemic response in overweight/obese late adolescent girls.” E J Clin Nutr 25 February 2015 doi:10.1038/ejcn.2015.12. This study was funded by grants from the American Egg Board.

Jovanovic A, J Gerrard, and R Taylor. “The second-meal phenomenon in type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes Care. 2009a;32(7):1199-201.

Jovanovic A, E Leverton, B Solanky, B Ravikumar, JE Snaar, PG Morris, et al. “The second meal phenomenon is associated with enhanced muscle glycogen storage in humans.” Clin Sci (Lond). 2009b;117(3):119-27.



Heather Leidy is an Assistant Professor of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri and the principal investigator of this study.



Views expressed by the author may not be those of the Egg Nutrition Center.

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