Rise and shine with protein to slash snacking

By Shayna Brouker • Published: July 3rd, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Are you a slave to snacking throughout the day? Just can’t resist a bite here or there every few hours … or minutes? Your body needs a break from food to maintain its optimal metabolic rate, so it’s best not to keep it satiated at all times of the day. According to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the secret to keeping snacking at bay is filling up with a high-protein breakfast in the a-m.

The study from the University of Missouri tested the theory on teenagers, the ultimate snackers. For six days, 20 overweight teenage girls ate either a breakfast of cereal with thirteen grams of protein, a high-protein meal of steak and eggs with thirty-five grams, or no breakfast at all. On the seventh day, they were presented a smorgasbord of microwaveable pizza pockets, cookies, cake, apples and yogurt. Those who ate the most protein in the morning consumed fewer calories throughout the day and even made healthier eating choices compared with the lower-protein participants. Breakfast-skippers also ate fewer calories, but most studies show they’re also more likely to overindulge later on.

That said, you should be careful about how much protein you eat at once — the body can only process so much at a time and the rest turns into fat. Space out your servings throughout the day. Infants need about 10 grams a day; teenage boys need up to 52 while teenage girls need 46. Among adults, men require 56 grams of protein a day while women need about 46. So if you do succumb to snacking during the day, pick treats with a little protein. Apples with peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs or cheese and crackers are all good options. You’ll stay satisfied enough to hold you over until the next meal.