Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Nutrition Debate #304: “I am not making this up”

“Novel differences in the glucose response to HP [higher-protein] vs. NP [normal-protein] breakfasts were observed and were influenced by the frequency of habitual breakfast consumption in overweight adolescents.” At 176 characters (with spaces), it might have made a good tweet. But, and I am not making this up, that was the CONCLUSION from the Abstract of a recent article in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (EJCN). I saw the groundbreaking news from Diabetes in Control: “Breakfast Habits Affect Overweight Teen Girls Metabolic Responses to Protein-Packed Morning Meals.”

“The primary aim [of the study] was to examine the daily glycemic response to normal-protein (NP) vs. higher-protein (HP) breakfasts in overweight adolescents who habitually skip breakfast (H-BS). The secondary aim examined whether the glycemic response to these meals differed in H-BS vs. habitual breakfast consumers (H-BC),” according to the EJCN. If this sounds elementary, Watson, I’ll generously assume the research was intended to educate overweight/obese late adolescent girls in an online chat line or similar social media or some teen-oriented supermarket magazine.

The unsurprising outcome was that “those who typically ate a high-carbohydrate breakfast had improved glucose control after they ate a high-protein breakfast.” No news there. But the researchers seemed surprised that “the habitual breakfast skippers experienced poorer glycemic control throughout the day when they consumed a high protein breakfast.” Hmmm. Ingested food affects your circulating blood glucose! It disrupts and destabilizes it! It causes glucose, from carbs and then from protein digestion via gluconeogenesis over 4 or 5 hours, to enter your bloodstream, resulting in peaks and crashes!

The Abstract (you have to pay to access the full paper) does not tell us what a “normal protein” breakfast is (as compared to a higher-protein breakfast) but you can bet it contains lots of carbs too: juice, cereal and/or some bread product.

“These findings may indicate an increased inability among habitual breakfast skippers to metabolize a large quantity of protein,” the corresponding researcher told Diabetes in Control. “However, our data would suggest that once someone begins to eat breakfast, they should gradually transition to a breakfast with more protein – or about 30 grams – to elicit improvements in glycemic control,” the researcher said. Wow! That (30g) is a lot of protein. They must be growing girls.

I think the education of the researcher is proceeding swimmingly. The paper stipulates, “Current scientific evidence shows that sustained elevations in post-meal glucose is a strong contributor of poor glycemic control and is associated with an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular complications. Because of the potential risk in the long term, identifying dietary strategies that individuals can begin when they are young to reduce post-meal elevations in glucose might prevent the occurrence of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” That’s a safe bet. And well said!

According to the Diabetes in Control write-up, the researcher suggested that “young women should routinely aim for a 350-calorie breakfast with approximately 30 grams of protein. To meet the recommended 30 grams of protein, [the researcher] suggests foods such as scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos with eggs and lean meats, or Greek Yogurt.” Interesting, my breakfast is 3 eggs, fried or scrambled, 1 strip of bacon, a large coffee with stevia powder and about 4 Tbs of half and half, and a 1 gram fish oil capsule. It’s 375 calories, but only 20 grams of protein, 31 grams of fat and 4 grams of carbs.

I also think the researcher needs to take another look at 1) gluconeogenesis and 2) the “standard lunch” the girls ate. But progress, progress.


  1. Wow, great information on Nutrition. Really appreciate your effort in providing this wonderful information to us. Keep up the good work.

    catering services in chennai

  2. Thanks, Sri. FYI, I have resumed writing "the nutrition debate" with a new focus on "Type 2 Diabetes, a Dietary Disease." You can see my latest column (now published 1/wk (except 12/27), on Sundays, here: