Study: protein reduces snacking impulse

4 Jun 2015

Heather Leidy, an assistant professor in nutrition and exercise physiology at Missouri University (MU) has designed several short-term protein studies, many looking at the role of breakfast in curbing hunger throughout the day. In one, for example, she studied whether the breakfast habits of teenage girls caused them to snack later. It compared a protein-enriched […]

Study: protein reduces snacking impulse

waffles-11894204Heather Leidy, an assistant professor in nutrition and exercise physiology at Missouri University (MU) has designed several short-term protein studies, many looking at the role of breakfast in curbing hunger throughout the day. In one, for example, she studied whether the breakfast habits of teenage girls caused them to snack later.

It compared a protein-enriched waffle breakfast to the traditional carb-loaded cereal alternative. By trading some carbohydrates for protein, she found that her subjects were more satisfied and less prone to overeating during the day.

The waffle-cereal study enlisted two groups of girls, one eating cereal without much protein, while the other tried the waffles with 30 grams of protein.

“We wanted to make a yummy breakfast that is healthy but is and looks tasty,” Leidy said. “We made an egg-based waffle with high protein.”

After scanning the volunteers’ brains, Leidy was able to conclude that the girls who ate the waffle breakfast had reduced activity in the areas of the brain that signal hunger.

In her current study, called MU 8, she is looking into the effects of eating higher-than-normal protein meals throughout the day.

“Most people will skip breakfast,” she said. “It is also typical to have almost all of your protein at dinner, which is at the end of the day.”

The study controls the subjects’ diets for six days to see if they willingly adjust their food intake on the seventh day. The subjects get a certain amount of protein for each meal and are allowed to eat what they wish beyond that.

If the additional protein has the desired effect, subjects will reduce their consumption voluntarily. Although the exact amount of protein necessary for each person will vary, the study suggests that a consistent, higher-protein diet produces better results than a regular diet does in blunting hormone responses linked to feelings of hunger.