A higher protein breakfast increases the thermic effect of feeding and appetite in breakfast skippers

Sunny Side Up Eggs

Featured article in the August, 2016 Issue of Nutrition Research Update

Numerous studies have demonstrated that higher protein meals at breakfast lead to greater feelings of fullness relative to lower protein breakfast meals, which may reduce energy intake and therefore facilitate weight loss (click here for a recent review).  Less understood is the effect of protein consumption at breakfast on the thermic effect of feeding (TEF), a component of total energy expenditure.

Dr. Jamie Baum at the University of Arkansas explored this question in 24 young women who habitually skip breakfast. Participants were randomized to one of three test breakfast groups for eight days: a carbohydrate-based breakfast (10 g protein, 350 calories), a protein-based breakfast (30 g protein, 350 calories), or no breakfast.  The carbohydrate-based breakfast consistent of an English muffin with cream cheese, yogurt and water.  The protein-based breakfast was described as “a proprietary breakfast sandwich, Greek yogurt, and water”.

Participants consuming the protein breakfast showed a significantly higher TEF relative to the carbohydrate-based breakfast and breakfast skipping on both day 1 and day 8 of the study.  There were no differences between the protein and carbohydrate breakfast meals on any of the subjective ratings of appetite.  Interestingly, average daily energy intake was lower for the carbohydrate-based breakfast group relative to both the protein breakfast group and breakfast skippers based on three 24-hour food intake records.

According to the authors, “these data suggest that increasing protein at breakfast has beneficial effects on TEF in habitual breakfast skipping women in the short-term, but a longer adaption period may be needed.”


Reference Citation
Neumann, B.L.; Dunn, A.; Johnson, D.; Adams, J.D.; Baum, J.I. Breakfast Macronutrient Composition Influences Thermic Effect of Feeding and Fat Oxidation in Young Women Who Habitually Skip Breakfast. Nutrients 2016, 8, 490.