Eggs are a smart choice to help keep hunger and weight in checkBy Valerie Johnson, MHSc, RD
In Canada, almost 2 out of every 3 adults (60%) aged 18 to 79 are overweight or obese.1 For many it’s a struggle to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. While many factors play a role, simple strategies to keep hunger in check, such as eating an egg-based breakfast, may help.
Studies have found that eating eggs for breakfast reduces hunger more than a higher-carbohydrate breakfast.2-5 Researchers think this may be in large part due to the fact that eggs are an excellent source of protein. It is well established that protein can help people feel full longer than carbohydrates or fat, so it makes sense that leveraging the power of protein in eggs may also help people manage their weight.6
An egg-based breakfast is a smart choice since each large egg provides many important nutrients, including six grams of high quality protein, with only 70 calories. Plus, research shows that not all breakfasts are created equal, even if they have the same number of calories.2-6 The advantage of an egg-based breakfast is that people feel less hungry and eat fewer calories later in the day, than they do after eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast.
A recent study compared the effects of three breakfast meals with equal calories: two poached eggs on toast; cereal with milk and toast; and a croissant and orange juice.2 Compared to the other two meals, the egg breakfast increased satiety (the feeling of fullness after a meal) and reduced hunger and the desire to eat. Plus, the healthy young men in the study ate far fewer calories at lunch and dinner after the egg-based meal.
Research with overweight teenage girls who routinely skip breakfast also reinforces the benefits of eating a higher protein breakfast including eggs.3 Compared to a cereal-based breakfast or skipping breakfast, the higher protein breakfast with eggs improved daily fullness the most. Further, in the teens who ate the higher protein breakfast, researchers saw less activation of brain regions responsible for food cravings. This was particularly true in the evening, when these teens ate fewer high fat snacks compared to the others in the study.
The results of another study also suggest that this fullness effect may translate to greater success with weight loss over time. Researchers found eating eggs for breakfast enhanced weight loss in overweight and obese adults.6 Over eight weeks, participants on a weight loss diet eating a breakfast with two eggs lost almost twice as much weight as those eating a bagel-based breakfast. This benefit was observed even though both meals were matched for weight and calories.
In 2014, a longer-term study also concluded that eating a higher protein diet may help people keep more weight off after weight loss.7 Overweight and obese participants who had lost weight, kept off almost twice as much weight over 12 months on a higher protein diet.
With all their nutritional goodness, eggs make sense as a part of a healthy diet. So it’s great to know eggs are also a smart choice as a natural ally to help keep hunger and weight in check.
Valerie Johnson is a Registered Dietitian and nutrition writer driven by a passion for inspiring people to eat well. She is a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario, Canadian Nutrition Society and Dietitians of Canada.
¹ Statistics Canada. Canada Health Measures Survey – Body composition of Canadian adults, 2009-2011. Health Fact Sheets, 2012; 82-625-X Available at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2012001/article/11708-eng.htm
² Fallaize R et al. Variation in the effects of three different breakfast meals on subjective satiety and subsequent intake of energy at lunch and evening meal. European Journal of Nutrition, 2013; 52(4):1353-9. ³ ³Leidy HJ et al. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013; 97(4):677-88.
⁴ Ratliff J et al. Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during next 24 hours in adult men. Nutrition Research, 2010; 30:96-103.
⁵ Vander Wal JS et al. Short-term effect of eggs on satiety in overweight and obese subjects. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2005; 24(6):510–5.
⁶ Vander Wal JS et al. Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. International Journal of Obesity, 2008; 32:1545-51.
⁷ Aller EE et al. Weight loss maintenance in overweight subjects on ad libitum diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index: the DIOGENES trial 12 months results. International Journal of Obesity, 2014; 38(12):1511-7.