Protein Breakfast: Composition, Pros and Cons

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Robert Maurer
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Protein and Breakfast

Proteins are macronutrients with a mixed function, i.e. plastic, energy, 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 organism 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 amount of protein necessary for the good health of the organism - is easily bridged through the usual diet. However, the amount of protein is not the same for everyone; growing subjects, the elderly, athletes 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, more complete proteins are said to have HIGH biological value and are contained in eggs, milk and derivatives (therefore in yogurt, ricotta, cheeses, etc.), meats and fish 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 partially eliminated with the faeces.


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


Importance of Breakfast

Breakfast is one of 5-6 ordinary meals of the day. It is customary to call it "the most important", although most people are unable to justify the real reason. From a "quantitative" point of view, breakfast provides (or rather, should provide) about 15% of the total daily calories. On the contrary, the other two main meals (ie lunch and dinner) should provide approximately 40 and 35% of the energy; at the same time, secondary meals (2-3 snacks) are limited to contributing overall for the remaining 10% (up to 25%) of the calories. So, if the math is not an opinion, by respecting the criterion of "caloric quantity", breakfast seems much more like a secondary meal than a main one. However, its importance lies in a metabolic rather than a 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, logically, breakfast should provide much more than 15% of the daily calories (remember the saying: "eat a king's breakfast, a prince's lunch and a poor man's dinner"?); also because, observing the circadian cycles, insulin secretion and its peripheral uptake are greater in these hours of the day rather than in the afternoon or at night. Nonetheless, in the morning (perhaps due to nervousness or time), the average people do not easily tolerate large portions of food and prefer to consume them for lunch or dinner. Furthermore, it should be remembered that night fasting occurs in conditions of deliberately limited energy expenditure (in essence, it corresponds to the basal metabolism); the nocturnal one, therefore, is certainly not comparable to a morning, afternoon or evening abstinence, periods in which the organism is more active and expensive. It should then be specified that, being the first meal, reducing its entity or completely eliminating it runs the risk of accumulating appetite (which turns into HUNGER) and exceeding portions in subsequent meals; in practice, by not taking this energy at breakfast, it is then added to lunch or dinner, increasing the fat deposits due to calorie excess.



These are the reasons which justify the importance of the morning meal and which, at the same time, limit its size 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 organism but, by facilitating the entry of certain molecules into the tissues, it also becomes responsible for adipose accumulation. A better ability to metabolize nutrients in the morning also corresponds to a lower tendency to store fat, which is why it is usual concentrate sweeter foods for breakfast rather than in other meals of the day (sugars are the main nutrients responsible for insulin secretion); furthermore, remember that the brain works on glucose (sugar), therefore carbohydrates should never be lacking in a morning meal (especially considering the long fast before breakfast).

However, the nutritional needs of people are NOT the same and, especially in certain situations (anticipated in the introduction), breakfast becomes a fundamental moment to reach the share of other nutritional compounds such as proteins, but also fibers, vitamins and salts. minerals.

In summary, for certain people (which we remember are mainly children, the elderly, sportsmen and those suffering from diseases related to intestinal absorption but not only ...) make a reasonable consumption of milk and yogurt in the morning it's a clever habit to say the least. 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 (vitamin B2), calcium and (in yogurt) of probiotics; moreover, as regards the yogurt, being conveniently distributed in portions of 125 and 150g, it can be easily consumed even outside the door.



Foods rich in protein 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 shrimp or Venetian liver ... at 7 o'clock. : 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 yogurt are once again extremely useful. In fact, although it is impossible to completely degrease a slice of meat or to deprive an egg yolk of cholesterol, at an industrial level it is 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 then necessary to specify that these foods are not globally tolerated; there is a slice of the population which, by not retaining 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 lactic bacteria which reduces the lactose content) they seem to tolerate better (with the due differences linked 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 oil seeds represent a tasty breakfast able to cover the needs of proteins (totally absorbable), sugars, fats, water, mineral salts, vitamins and dietary fiber for the most part. of the general population.

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