Research: Does protein quality reduce energy intake during a weight loss diet plan?


Protein quality can affect your energy intake.  

Eggs in bowl

Eggs in bowl

Today, many nutritional experts are recommending a return to eating foods that are less processed.  Processed food reduces the nutritional quality of the food by removing parts of the nutrients such as vitamins and minerals or the nondigestible fiber.  The act of processing the foods makes them more palatable but reduced the quality by removing some of the most important parts. Many of these new experts are missing an important part of the recommendation, and that is just to increase the quality of the food you eat.  

Quality of food differs from one food to another.  For instance, the quality of protein in eggs is superior to those in cereals, grains, and many plant proteins.  Two cuts of beef have different nutritional qualifies based on the fat content, but they tend to similar protein bioavailability.  Eggs have been long vilified for having too much cholesterol and exalted for being an excellent source of protein.  It has long been suspected that eggs would create higher satiety and thus help with weight loss.  

So, how does an egg breakfast compare to a cereal-based breakfast if they have a similar energy density?  Researchers in 2017 studied this very question[1].  The researchers compared ten overweight women on a reduced calorie diet randomly assigned to two groups and were placed on energy matched diets that centered around an egg or cereal-based proteins.  Since the diets were matched for energy density, the researchers hypothesized that the effects on satiety would be due to the quality of the protein.  In prior studies, researchers have found that the egg breakfast acutely reduced markers of hunger and enhanced those of satiety, including acylated ghrelin and Peptide YY.  In the current study, energy intake (EI), anthropometrics (body fat measurements), blood, and subjective hunger and satiety scores were measured.  While none of the differences reached statistical significance, as predicted egg eaters reported less feeling of hunger and had a reduced energy intake.  

The bottom line: This study appears to add more support for eating more eggs.  Eggs appear to reduce hunger.  Less hunger should result in better weight loss.  Although a larger study is needed to confirm the results are significant (low number of participant reduced the ability to confirm), the results indicate that superior quality egg protein is potentially better for weight loss than the plant-based cereals.   A larger study is needed.  Then again, just as I write this article, reports are out suggesting you should reduce egg consumption, but I will leave that for another article.  I still recommend eggs to most of my patients.  


D. Bailey et al., “Does Higher Protein Quality Breakfast Reduce Energy Intake When Following a Weight Loss Diet Plan,” The FASEB Journal, vol. 31, no. 1_supplement, pp. 643.6-643.6, Apr. 2017 [Online]. Available: 10.1096/fasebj.31.1_supplement.643.6″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”> [Accessed: 24-Jan-2019]
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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