Hunger Protein & Breakfast

I’m sure you can think of all the options we have for breakfast. Most of these options are simple and quick: bagel, Pop Tart, croissant, frozen waffle (they even have gluten-free, sprouted-grain, frozen ones now), banana, any breakfast bar, oatmeal, donuts... I could go on and on. Can you guess what all of these breakfast items have in common? They are all carb dominant. There’s nothing wrong with carbs, but when it comes to breakfast, it’s not enough to set you up for success for the day. It all comes down to hormones and hunger.

I think it’s helpful to understand hunger and why we get hungry. The more information we have, the more sense it makes as we begin to make changes in our behaviors. There is not a lot of significant research that shows us why we get hungry. But what we do know is simple and meaningful. We eat to keep our bodies at homeostasis so we can function. We also eat for pleasure. Most of our meals are a combination of both. When we eat, we have two signals that make us feel full: gastric distention, the belly expanding, and hormonal satiation, which is what happens when we eat certain foods and the gut then releases hormones based on those foods. Many of these hormones come from the gut and travel up the vagus nerve that goes from the gut to the brain and gives us signals that tell us to stop eating or keep eating. One of these hormones is called CCK. It is released in the gut when we eat protein and fat. CCK sends a message to the brain that we are full. This hormone has a longer effect that we call satiety which is different than satiation. Satiety gives us fullness between meals. We see that when people have protein and fat for breakfast they don’t eat as much later in the day and they avoid overeating. Try eggs: scrambled, sunny side up, or hard boiled. How about some turkey bacon with that grain free waffle. Mix some nut butter into your oatmeal. Or, if you are in a hurry, have some deli meat with a piece of fruit. Have you ever tried a mix of jerky, nuts, and dried fruit? It’s simple to grab on the go.

NutritionAaron Leventhal