Many people notice that eating breakfast makes them hungrier throughout the day, and this is probably NOT their imagination! In this case the culprit is likely what they eat. Specifically, refined carbohydrates, including sugar, can drive hunger particularly if they are consumed with little fat or protein.
A recent study tested this hypothesis with 16 healthy young women between the ages of 18 and 30 who had a stable body weight for the last 3 months. Anyone with diabetes or on medications that affect appetite was excluded along with people who were allergic to any part of the meals given as part of the study.
Participants fasted for a minimum of 8 hours prior to the study. In the morning participants came to the laboratory and were given a standardized test meal consisting of passion fruit juice, one cup of coffee, French bread and 5 grams of margarine. The two drinks had no sugar added and the participants were instructed to sweeten to their preferred taste.
The sugar container given to the participants was weighed both before and after its use by each person to know the amount of sugar each person added to their drinks. After completing the entire meal participants did not eat or drink anything (except water) until lunchtime.
Lunch was served 3 hours after breakfast and consisted of pasta with tomato sauce, and participants were instructed to eat until they felt satisfied.
The participants were divided into two groups based on the amount of sugar they elected to add to their breakfast. The high sugar group added about 25 grams of sugar to breakfast while the low sugar group only added 14 grams of sugar.
Both groups were evaluated for their perception of hunger and satiety. The high sugar group had significantly higher levels of hunger during the three hours after breakfast AND consumed significantly more pasta at lunch!
Take Home Message
Avoid high sugar breakfasts such as standard breakfast cereal, fruit juices (eat fruit don’t drink it!) and consume 15 – 20 grams of protein and a small amount of fat. Also try to add higher fiber carb choices like berries instead of banana, adding spinach to an omelet, etc. Examples include an omelet with spinach with berries or a shake with protein, greens, and small amount of MCT oil for fat.