The timing of a meal is a key factor as a greater sense of fullness is experienced after a high protein breakfast compared to when more protein is eaten at lunch or dinner, the report published in the British Journal of Nutrition said.
Wayne W Campbell, PhD, the study author and professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University in the US, said: “There is a growing body of research which supports eating high-quality protein foods when dieting to maintain a sense of fullness.
"This study is particularly unique in that it looked at the timing of protein intake and reveals that when you consume more protein may be a critical piece of the equation."
The Purdue study looked at overweight or obese men who ate a reduced calorie diet. The diet consisted of two variations of protein intakes, both which were within federal nutrition recommendations. The first was a normal protein intake (or 11-14 percent of calories) and the second was increased protein (or 18-25 percent of calories).
The researchers tested the effect of consuming the additional protein at specific meals, breakfast, lunch or dinner, or spaced evenly throughout the day.
They found that the feeling of fullness was greatest and most sustained throughout the day when the additional protein, from high-quality protein foods, from sources such as eggs and lean Canadian bacon, was eaten at breakfast.
Other examples of high-quality protein foods include yogurt or low-fat dairy products such as cheese.
A recent survey commissioned by Solae found that consumers increasingly seek filling breakfasts that release energy slowly, expanding opportunities for manufacturers of soy products.
Meanwhile the Starbucks Coffee Company has just introduced the Power Protein Plate to its breakfast menus in the US and Canada. This combines an egg, a whole wheat bagel, peanut butter, cheese, and fresh fruit and contains 16 grams of protein (about one-third of an adults daily needs).
Katie Thomson, registered dietitian and senior nutritionist at Starbucks want nutritious option including lean protein to help “fill them up and give them energy to make it to lunch”.
The authors said that most Americans typically consume a relatively small amount of protein at breakfast, which is only about 15 percent of their total daily protein intake.
Also consumer research by the International Food Information Council shows that 92 percent of Americans cite breakfast as the most important meal of the day, but 46 percent eat breakfast seven days per week.
Keith Ayoob, a nutritionist and associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said: “It strikes me that there is a real opportunity to increase protein intake at breakfast to see a meaningful impact on people's weight loss efforts.”
The Purdue study adds to a growing body of research on the benefits of eating protein for weight management.
A study published online last month in the International Journal of Obesity found that eating two eggs for breakfast, as part of a reduced-calorie diet, helped overweight adults lose more weight and feel more energetic than those who ate a bagel breakfast of equal calories.
Another Purdue University study published in a 2007 issue of Obesity, a scientific journal, revealed that a calorie-restricted diet with additional protein resulted in retained post-meal feelings of fullness and improved overall mood.
Other studies that support the traditional wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day include researchers from Venezuela and the US which found that a big breakfast rich in carbohydrates, followed by low-carb, low-calorie eating for the rest of the day, helped dieters with weight loss.
The research, presented in June at The Endocrine Society's annual meeting in San Francisco, was conducted by Dr Daniela Jakubowicz, MD, of the Hospital de Clinicas in Caracas, Venezuela, with colleagues from the Virginia Commonwealth University in the US.