A diet high in a protein found in dairy products can aid weight loss and help to manage type 2 diabetes, a new study has found.
Previous research has suggested that eating a large breakfast containing protein, a medium-sized lunch and a smaller dinner can help a person to feel satisfied throughout the day, aid weight loss, and prevent spikes in blood sugar.
However, scientists believe that the type of protein consumed at breakfast is also important.
A study by a team at Tel Aviv University found that whey, which is a by-product of cheese production and found in many dairy products, was more effective at controlling blood sugar than other sources of protein such as eggs, soy or tuna.
In a study involving 48 overweight or obese people with type 2 diabetes and an average age of 59, researchers assigned participants to one of three diets that contained the same number of calories for 23 months.
The first group ate a breakfast containing mainly whey protein, including protein shakes, while the second group consumed other proteins such as eggs, soy and tuna. The third group ate a breakfast high in carbohydrates.
The researchers re-assessed the groups after 12 weeks, and found that those who ate whey protein had lost 7.6kg, while the ‘other protein’ group shed to 6.1kg and the carbohydrate group were 3.1kg lighter.
Dr Daniela Jakubowicz, professor of medicine at Tel Aviv University, explained: “The whey protein diet significantly suppresses the hunger hormone 'ghrelin'.
“A whey protein drink is easily prepared and provides the advantages [conferred by] a high-protein breakfast on weight loss, reduction of hunger, glucose spikes and HbA1c [glycated haemoglobin, high levels of which are linked to diabetes].”
Emma Stevenson, a professor of sport and exercise science at Newcastle University, who was not part of the study, said it highlighted the lesser-known fact that different types of protein are more satiating.
But she said that breakfast was often the meal with the lowest protein in the UK, despite other studies also showing health benefits.
“Replacing refined carbohydrates with protein sources at breakfast can help control appetite and blood sugar levels later in the day and sources of whey protein such as milk and yoghurt are certainly a good choice," she said.
Six healthy breakfast recipes - in pictures
Six healthy breakfast recipes - in pictures
You will need: 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 1 stick of celery, 1 cup of mushrooms, 4 to 6 eggs, 1 habanero chilli (optional), 1 tablespoon of oil, 25g of grated low-fat cheese, 150 ml of skimmed milk, 50g of turkey breast. Add some spinach for an extra boost.
Method:1) Cook your turkey breast so that it’s ready to add to the mix later on. Best to grill it and then chop it up as it’s healthier than shallow frying. 2) Meanwhile, heat the oil and add your onion, pepper, chilli, mushrooms and celery to your pan. Cook these for around five minutes until your veg is nice and soft. 3) Whisk your eggs and milk together in a separate bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper. 4) Add the egg mixture, veg, cooked turkey and cheese to a high-sided baking pan or tin and cook in your oven for around 15 minutes at 170C.
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Be careful when you buy your porridge, as some brands will cram a lot of sugar in there. Porridge is a good breakfast option as it is renowned for releasing energy slowly, which means you can get to lunch without suffering from a lull. A great source of fibre, potassium and vitamins, bananas are always a good accompaniment to your morning oats.
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Ingredients: 2 full eggs, 3 egg whites, asparagus, peppers, 50g of smoked salmon
Method1) Boil your asparagus in water for around five minutes. 2) Meanwhile, mix your eggs and egg whites in a jug, and add a splash of skimmed milk. Chop some peppers up and throw them in too. 3) Once your asparagus is cooked, drain it and chop into smaller chunks. Add these to your egg mixture. 4) Whisk your mixture and season with salt and pepper. 5) Pour the mix into a hot pan with a small knob of butter or a teaspoon of quality olive oil. 6) Cook the omelette for around 90 seconds to two minutes. 7) Once the bottom is cooked, take the pan off the hob and place under the grill for another 30 seconds to a minute in order to cook the top. 8) Serve with your smoked salmon.
Greek yoghurt has vast nutritional benefits. Regardless of where you stand on the superfood debate, Greek yoghurt’s credentials speak for themselves. A good source of potassium, protein, calcium and essential vitamins, this food forms an ideal base for a healthy breakfast, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
Eggs Florentine is not only a tasty breakfast, it also carries a hefty nutritional punch, particularly when you throw some spinach into the equation.
So fast and easy to make, yet so effective. Wholemeal toast can be a good breakfast choice, as long as you are sensible with your toppings. Peanut butter is perfect. A good source of “healthy fats”, as well as protein and Vitamin E among other nutrients, a liberal spreading of peanut butter can set you up for the day.
Chloe Miles, a British Dietetic Association spokesperson, agreed that protein was proven to help with weight maintenance, and said it was important to include it in every meal.
However, she added: "This particular study has quite a small sample size, and uses overweight and obese people with an average age of 59 years old with type 2 diabetes, so the results may not apply to younger people with a healthy body weight without diabetes; further research would be needed."
She also said it would be wiser to consume whey protein in food rather than in powder form, which can be expensive and contain other ingredients.
“As 20 per cent of the proteins in milk and its products are whey, you could include milk or yoghurt in your breakfast, which would have the added benefit of providing calcium for healthy bones," Ms Miles said.
“Making sure that you don’t skip breakfast is important to maintain a healthy body weight and for overall diet quality. I’d encourage people to think about their diet as a whole, and remember that total energy intake is important, rather than thinking that whey alone is going to help them lose weight.’