Barbell Life / Nutrition

Stop Eating Oatmeal!: How Protein for Breakfast Can Make You Leaner and Smarter

Hello everyone, this is essentially a piggyback post pertaining to what Whitney wrote about a few days ago. I’d like to expand on other possible benefits to a protein rich breakfast.


Charge long necked one!

Breakfast is stupid!

First off, I’m going to get my biases out of the way. I personally hate breakfast. I think it is unnatural, gross, and more or less a waste of time. It turns out that there may actually be some benefit to skipping breakfast or at the very least not eating a large standard meal. It appears that at least in healthy young males a large breakfast can reduce fat oxidation (breakdown as fuel) all day (1). However, if you are habituated to eating a lot at breakfast (or simply eating at all) there is more than likely an adjustment in hormonal levels. So, by that I mean that if you’re used to it I doubt any harm is being done. I found some research to indicate that, but it doesn’t really matter, you should probably listen to your body anyway. But I digress…

mad breakfast

Even breakfast is mad about being breakfast

Fat loss benefits

Increase protein intake has some awesome metabolic benefits that aid in fat loss, and can make lower calorie diets easier, due to the satiating (makes you feel full).

First off, protein has a greater thermal effect than any other nutrient (2). Essentially this means that for every 100 Calories ingested 30 Calories are released as heat. Whereas, the values are 2 and 7 Calories for fat and carbs respectively.  SO, you can just eat more, not to mention that the biochemical pathways to convert protein into fat are virtually non-existent. Basically, you can over eat protein and it will not turn to fat.

Another great aspect of protein is the fact that it makes you feel more full compared to the other macronutrients (3). To prove this point, eat 6 eggs and tell me you don’t feel the least bit full. For reference that’s about 360 calories, that’s the same as a McChicken and you could easily put down a medium fries with that.

Just by adding a couple of eggs to breakfast people were more satiated and tended to lose more overall weight, even when calories were match, compared to a group that ate bagels for breakfast (4, 5).

Cognitive benefits

Here’s what I really intended to write about. It seems that what you eat in the morning has legitimate effects on your cognitive performance. Why should you care about this? Well if you aren’t concerned with being an overall better and more intelligent person, then please consume a cereal bowl full of razor blades.

razor blades

Every last bite

About 11 years ago there was a study that compared  cognitive performance scores of either a high carb breakfast (84g of carbs and 21g of protein), high protein (84g of protein and 21g of carbs), and a balanced meal (52.5g of both) (6). The only benefit to the higher carb meal was transient at best and the main cognitive benefits were in the high protein and balanced group. Now I realize that these values do seem rather large, but the participants in this study were healthy males in their mid-twenties. So, these exact values may make you sick to your stomach if you are a 100lb woman. In fact, some of the people in this study actually did report “feeling sick”. This was attributed to proteins satiating effects.If you are a person who pays adequate attention, I’m sure that you’ve noticed an abundance of stupid people. I digress again… However, choosing different foods for breakfast may be all you have to do to ensure that you aren’t one of the walking brain dead.

There are several explanations as to why the higher protein meals had these effects. The main one being with more protein in the system less tryptophan can convert to serotonin, which would induce mental fatigue.

Take home message

If you must eat breakfast, be sure to include a good amount of protein, go easy on the carbs, and for an added benefit include some fats to stabilize your blood sugar (7). You’ll be leaner, more full, more aware, and that could possibly lead to a smarter you. If you get smarter, who knows, you could come up with the next great idea and get rich… Probably not, but as always make up your own mind.




(1)Martin, A., Normand, S., Sothier, M., Peyrat, J., Louche-Pelissier, C., & Laville, M. (2000). Is advice for breakfast consumption justified? Results from a short-term dietary and metabolic experiment in young healthy men. British Journal of Nutrition, 84(03), 337-344.

(2)Jequier, E. (2002). Pathways to obesity. International Journal of Obesity.


(3)Porrini, M. A. R. I. S. A., Santangelo, A., Crovetti, R., Riso, P., Testolin, G., & Blundell, J. E. (1997). Weight, protein, fat, and timing of preloads affect food intake. Physiology & behavior62(3), 563-570.


(4)Vander Wal, J. S., Gupta, A., Khosla, P., & Dhurandhar, N. V. (2008). Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. International Journal of Obesity32(10), 1545-1551.


(5)Vander Wal, J. S., Marth, J. M., Khosla, P., Jen, K. C., & Dhurandhar, N. V. (2005). Short-term effect of eggs on satiety in overweight and obese subjects.Journal of the American College of Nutrition24(6), 510-515.


(6)Fischer, K., Colombani, P. C., Langhans, W., & Wenk, C. (2002). Carbohydrate to protein ratio in food and cognitive performance in the morning.Physiology & behavior75(3), 411-423.

(7)Fischer, K., Colombani, P. C., Langhans, W., & Wenk, C. (2001). Cognitive performance and its relationship with postprandial metabolic changes after ingestion of different macronutrients in the morning. British journal of nutrition,85(3), 393-405.



One thought on “Stop Eating Oatmeal!: How Protein for Breakfast Can Make You Leaner and Smarter

  1. Pingback: Why Eating Breakfast May Help You Lose Weight | voxifit

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