Building the Best Breakfast: New Insights from Research

Building the Best Breakfast: New Insights from Research

heart-shaped fried eggs and fried toast isolated

By Catherine Cioffi, RD, Contributing Blogger

The importance of having a nutritious breakfast to start the day, especially for kids in elementary school and high school, has been demonstrated time and time again. For example, a recent study found that kids and teens who eat breakfast tend to have lower body fat, body mass index (BMI), and insulin levels, and better metabolic syndrome scores. In another study, kids who ate breakfast tended to have higher scores on achievement tests.

So, what type of breakfast is best?
Knowing the potential benefits of breakfast, a recent study conducted at University of Pennsylvania compared the effects of three different breakfasts, – eggs, oatmeal, or cereal, among school aged children to check their hunger and amount of calories consumed. All three breakfasts were all equal in calories, but differed in percent of calories from protein, which ranged from 21% (eggs), 14% (oatmeal), and 8% (cereal).

The results found that on the egg breakfast day, children ate about 70 fewer calories at lunch compared to the cereal or oatmeal days, suggesting that eggs had the greatest benefit for short-term calorie control in children. This could be due to the higher amount of protein found in eggs.

However, it should be noted that the total amount of calories eaten throughout the day did not differ between the three breakfasts, nor did ratings of fullness. When the children rated their perceived hunger on the days of each meal, it was lowest on the oatmeal day compared to the other breakfast days.

What does this all mean?
This study is a great example of why it’s important to read scientific studies more closely. Although the egg breakfast was most beneficial in reducing calories consumed at lunch, this didn’t pan out to an overall daily calorie reduction. In fact, they were less hungry overall on the oatmeal day. Therefore, your breakfast choice alone may not be enough.

As we wait for more research to tie out these questions, my recommendation is to aim for a balanced breakfast that works for your family’s morning routine. Look for good sources of protein, like eggs, Greek yogurt, or other low-fat milk products, and/or fiber, like oatmeal, whole fruit, or all bran cereals – both types of foods contain dietary factors that help to curb hunger.

For more ideas, including “Easy Breakfasts for Kids to Make” and ways to “Power Up with Breakfast” visit the Kids Eat Right website! These are all dietitian-approved recipes or ideas to start your morning right.

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