The new research found that when women consumed high-protein breakfasts, they maintained better glucose and insulin control than they did with lower-protein or no-protein meals.
"For women, eating more protein in the morning can beneficially affect their glucose and insulin levels," commented Dr Heather Leidy from the University of Missouri. "If you eat healthy now and consume foods that help you control your glucose levels, you may be protecting yourself from developing diabetes in the future."
Blood sugar management
The team noted that in most healthy individuals, the amount of glucose, or sugar, in the blood increases after eating. When glucose increases, levels of insulin increase to carry the glucose to the rest of the body.
Previous research has shown that extreme increases in glucose and insulin in the blood can lead to poor glucose control and increase an individual's risk of developing diabetes over time.
The team, including researchers from the University of Missouri and Biofortis Clinical Research, studied women aged 18-55 years old who consumed one of three different meals or only water on four consecutive days.
Each tested meals was less than 300 calories per serving and had similar fat and fibre contents. However, the meals varied in amount of protein: a pancake meal with three grams of protein; a sausage and egg breakfast skillet with 30 grams of protein; or a sausage and egg breakfast skillet with 39 grams protein.
Glucose and insulin levels were monitored for four hours after they ate breakfast.
"Both protein-rich breakfasts led to lower spikes in glucose and insulin after meals compared to the low-protein, high-carb breakfast," explained study co-author Kevin Maki of Biofortis Clinical Research.
"Additionally, the higher-protein breakfast containing 39 grams of protein led to lower post-meal spikes compared to the high-protein breakfast with 30 grams of protein."
These findings suggest that, for healthy women, the consumption of protein-rich breakfasts leads to better glucose control throughout the morning than the consumption of low-protein options, said Leidy.
Based on the study's findings, the researchers are hopeful that the consumption of protein-rich breakfasts also would benefit individuals with pre-diabetes, although future research is needed to confirm this hypothesis, she said.
The study was presented at the 2014Experimental Biology meeting:
Source: The FASEB Journal (abstract only)
"Acute Effects of Higher Protein, Sausage and Egg-based Convenience Breakfast Meals on Postprandial Glucose Homeostasis in Healthy, Premenopausal Women"
Authors: Heather Leidy, Laura Ortinau, Tia Rains, Kevin Maki