Protein breakfast: composition, pros and cons

Protein breakfast: composition, pros and cons

Protein and Breakfast

Proteins are  macronutrients with mixed function, i.e. plastic ,  energetic, bioregulatory, hormonal, etc. Their contribution in the diet is very important since a part of the “building blocks” ( amino acids ) that constitute them is of the “essential” type; it means that the body is not able to produce them autonomously in sufficient quantities and that it must therefore obtain them from the diet.

Usually, the  protein requirement  – that is the quantity of protein necessary for the good health of the organism – is easily filled through the usual diet . However, the amount of protein is not the same for everyone; growing subjects  , the  elderly  , sportsmen and certain sick people require more than adults and  sedentary people . Furthermore, if it is true that these  nutrients  are almost ubiquitous in foods , it is equally true that not all of them are “complete”; this “completeness” is called  Biological Value  and is measured by evaluating the relative  amino acid profile. The best, most complete proteins are said to have  HIGH biological value  and are contained in  eggs ,  milk and derivatives  (therefore in  yoghurt ,  ricotta ,  cheese  , etc.), meat and  fishery products .It is wrong to believe that the solution to an increased protein requirement is to consume as much protein as possible; in fact, excessive portions of these nutrients (>30g) are not well absorbed by the intestine , so they are partly eliminated with the  faeces .

Basically, the secret to having good protein absorption is to eat more meals but in smaller portions; in this case, certain foods in single portions to be placed at breakfast and in secondary meals become particularly convenient . So, to give a clear example, YES to yogurt for breakfast and NO to WHOLE Florentine steak  for dinner.

Importance of Breakfast

Breakfast is one of the 5-6 ordinary meals of the day. It is usually called “the most important”, even though most people are unable to justify the real reason. From a “quantitative” point of view, breakfast provides (or rather, should provide) about 15% of  total daily calories . Conversely, the other two main meals (that is, lunch and dinner), should supply approximately 40 and 35% of the energy; in parallel, secondary meals (2-3  snacks) only contribute the remaining 10% (up to 25%) of calories overall. So, if mathematics is not an opinion, respecting the “caloric quantity” criterion, breakfast seems much more like a secondary meal than a main one. However, its importance lies in a metabolic and non-mathematical mechanism.

Breakfast is intended to refresh the body after a  fast  that lasts from the end of the previous dinner. In principle, assuming that the last meal of the day is eaten between 19:30 and 20:30, and that the next breakfast takes place between 7:30 and 8:30, this time frame should correspond to about 11-13 hours. It goes without saying that, by logic, it would be appropriate for breakfast to provide much more than 15% of the daily calories (remember the saying: ” have a breakfast like a king, a lunch like a prince and a dinner like a pauper “?); also why, scrutinizing the  circadian cycles, insulin secretion and its peripheral uptake are greater at these times of the day than in the afternoon or night. Nonetheless, in the morning (perhaps due to nervousness or time constraints), the average person does not easily tolerate large portions of food and prefers to consume them at lunch or dinner. Furthermore, it should be remembered that night fasting takes place in conditions of  deliberately limited energy expenditure  (essentially, it corresponds to the  basal metabolic rate ); therefore, nocturnal abstinence is certainly not comparable to morning, afternoon or evening abstinence, periods in which the body is more active and expensive. It should also be specified that, since it is the first meal, reducing its size or eliminating it completely runs the risk of accumulating appetite  (which turns into HUNGER ) and to exceed the portions in subsequent meals; in practice, by not assuming this energy at breakfast, this is then added to lunch or dinner, increasing the  adipose deposit  due to excess calories.

These are the reasons which justify the importance of the morning meal and which, in parallel, limit its extent to a modest 15% of the total.

Protein Foods for Breakfast

Once we understand the importance of breakfast, let’s try to better understand HOW it should be structured.

We have already mentioned insulin; this  hormone  is the main anabolic mediator of the body but, by facilitating the entry of certain molecules into the tissues, it also becomes responsible for the accumulation of fat. A better ability to metabolise nutrients in the morning also corresponds to a lower tendency to deposit  fat , which is why it is customary  to concentrate sweeter foods at breakfast  rather than in other meals of the day (  sugars  are the main nutrients responsible for the  secretion insulin ); moreover, remember that the  brain  works on  glucose  ( sugar ), therefore  carbohydratesthey should never be missing in a morning meal (especially considering the long fast before breakfast).

However, people’s nutritional needs are NOT the same and, especially in certain situations (anticipated in the introduction), breakfast becomes a fundamental moment for reaching the quota of other nutritional compounds such as proteins, but also fibres,  vitamins  and  salts minerals .

In summary, for some people (whom we remember are above all children, the elderly, sportsmen and those suffering from pathologies related to intestinal absorption but not only…) consuming milk and yogurt reasonably  in  the morning  is a habit nothing short of smart. I mention these foods because, in addition to being statistically the most welcome in the first meal, they represent an excellent source of protein, riboflavin ( vit. B2 ),  calcium  and (in yogurt)  probiotics ; moreover, as far as yogurt is concerned, being conveniently distributed in portions of 125 and 150g, it can also be easily consumed outside the city.

Foods  rich in proteins  are different but, if for some it is not a problem to consume  cured meats , eggs,  canned tuna  or  white meat  as soon as they wake up, I challenge anyone to regularly eat a plate of  roasted shrimps  or  Venetian-style liver … at 7 :30 in the morning!

Then, if we consider that the only nutritional drawback to the consumption of foods of animal origin is the intake of cholesterol  and  saturated fats , milk and yoghurt once again prove to be extremely useful. In fact, although it is impossible to completely degrease a slice of  meat  or deprive   an egg yolk of cholesterol , on an industrial level it is instead possible to skim (even very effectively) any type of milk; this, deprived of its lipid component, becomes a food almost totally devoid of molecules that favor the increase of  cholesterol in the blood .

It is also necessary to specify that such foods are not globally tolerated; there is a slice of the population which, not keeping  intestinal lactase  after  weaning , becomes  intolerant to this sugar . For these people it is practically impossible to consume normal milk, while (thanks to the hydrolysis carried out by the  lactic bacteria  which reduces the amount of  lactose ) they seem to tolerate better (with the due differences related to subjectivity) all fermented products such as yogurt,  kefir , Greek or thickened yogurt ,  buttermilk  , etc.

In short, two yogurts with  whole grains ,  honey ,  fresh fruit  and  oilseeds  represent a tasty breakfast and able to cover the  need for proteins  (totally absorbable), sugars, fats, water, mineral salts, vitamins and  dietary fiber  for the most part of the general population.



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