If you can’t seem to keep your hands off junk food at the office, try adding extra protein to your breakfast. A recent University of Missouri study found that 20 young people who ate breakfasts with 40% protein compared to 15% protein had greater reductions in “savory and sweet” food cravings.
Published in Nutrition Journal, the study called for participants to either skip breakfast, eat a normal breakfast (15% of calories from protein) or a high-protein breakfast (40% of calories from protein, including eggs and beef) for seven consecutive days. On day seven, food cravings and dopamine levels were examined. Breakfast eaters reported an initial decline in sweet cravings followed by a progressive incline while the breakfast-skippers’ cravings saw a purely upward tick.
Furthermore, those who ate high-protein breakfasts experienced the highest increases in homovanillic acid (HVA), which is the main dopamine metabolite and a marker for dopamine activity. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that regulates food motivation and reward. When we eat, we release dopamine. And when we eat a protein-rich breakfast, our brains move faster to recognize that morning meal as a reward.