The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting and Expo:

High Carb and Protein Breakfast that Includes “Dessert” Improves Weight Loss Maintenance

This sounds like every dieter’s dream:  eat dessert for breakfast and still lose weight.  While that could be the catchy headline for research presented at The Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting, it’s important to know the whole story behind the headline.

This study—“Meal Timing and Composition Influence Ghrelin Levels, Appetite Scores and Weight Loss Maintenance in Overweight and Obese Adults”—was headed by Daniela Jakubowicz, MD, from Tel Aviv University’s Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel.1  In setting the context for the study, she said, “The goal of a weight loss diet should be not only weight reduction but also reduction of hunger and cravings, thus helping prevent weight regain.”

When comparing a low carbohydrate breakfast (LCb) with a high carbohydrate and protein breakfast (HCPb), the researchers wanted to see which diet could more effectively reduce hunger and cravings.

The study had 193 subjects.  They were obese (BMI 32.2 ± 1.0 kg/m2), and they did not have diabetes.  Their age was 47 ± 7 years.

The subjects—which included men and women—were randomized to 2 groups.  In one, the LCb group, they ate a 304-calorie breakfast that had just 10 g of carbohydrates.  There were 30 g of protein.

The other group, the HCPb group, ate a 600-calorie breakfast that had 60 g of carbs.  As part of the carbs, there was a small sweet (eg, cookie, cake, or chocolate).  The HCPb group ate 45 g of protein at breakfast.

What Was Assessed in this Study
Every 4 weeks, researchers measured various anthropometric values.

At baseline, at 16 weeks, and at 32 weeks, fasting glucose, insuling, ghrelin, lipids, and craving scores were assessed.  Additionally, a breakfast meal challenge that examined hunger, satiety, and ghrelin responses was done at those same time points.

Halfway Point Results:  Diets Provide Similar Weight Loss
At 16 weeks, the HCPb and LCb had similar levels of weight loss:  -13.5 ± 2.3 kg in the HCPb group and -15.1 ± 1.9 kg for the LCb group (p = 0.11).

High Carb and Protein Group Then Able to Maintain Weight Loss
In the second half of the study (until week 32), the LCb group regained 11.6 ± 2.6 kg.

However, the HCPb group lost more weight:  6.9 ± 1.7 kg.

There were other benefits seen of the HCPb:  ghrelin levels were reduced after breakfast by 45.2% (this is compared to 29.5% in the LCb).  Satiety also improved significantly, and hunger and craving scores were reduced.

Food Diaries Reveal Better Compliance with HCPb
All subjects were asked to keep food diaries, and in the HCPb group, better compliance was noted in sticking to their daily calorie allotment following breakfast.

Also, it’s possible that having the sweet with breakfast—and not feeling restricted, even though they were on a diet—reduced cravings for such sweet things throughout the day.  This is a potential problem with other diets that restrict desserts.

Dessert for Breakfast?
This study does provide promising results for weight loss maintenance with the high carbohydrate and protein for breakfast diet.  However, it’s also important to adhere to dietary restrictions throughout the rest of the day, as well as make other necessary lifestyle changes (eg, exercise).

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