Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response

Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):211-20. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/83.2.211.


Background: The most satiating macronutrient appears to be dietary protein. Few studies have investigated the effects of dietary protein on ghrelin secretion in humans.

Objective: This study was designed to investigate whether a high-protein (HP) breakfast is more satiating than a high-carbohydrate breakfast (HC) through suppression of postprandial ghrelin concentrations or through other physiologic processes.

Design: Fifteen healthy men were studied in a single-blind, crossover design. Blood samples and subjective measures of satiety were assessed frequently for 3 h after the consumption of 2 isocaloric breakfasts that differed in their protein and carbohydrate content (58.1% of energy from protein and 14.1% of energy from carbohydrate compared with 19.3% of energy from protein and 47.3% of energy from carbohydrate). The gastric emptying rate was indirectly assessed with the acetaminophen absorption test.

Results: The HP breakfast decreased postprandial ghrelin secretion more than did the HC breakfast (P < 0.01). Ghrelin concentrations were correlated with glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (r = -0.65; 95% CI: -0.85, -0.29) and glucagon concentrations (r = -0.47; 95% CI: -0.75, -0.03). Compared with the HC breakfast, the HP breakfast increased glucagon (P < 0.0001) and cholecystokinin (P < 0.01), tended to increase glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (P = 0.07) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (P = 0.10), and decreased the gastric emptying rate (P < 0.0001). Appetite ratings were not significantly different between the 2 treatments, and the HP breakfast did not significantly affect ad libitum energy intake.

Conclusions: The HP breakfast decreased postprandial ghrelin concentrations more strongly over time than did the HC breakfast. High associations between ghrelin and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and glucagon suggest that stimulation of these peptides may mediate the postprandial ghrelin response. The HP breakfast also reduced gastric emptying, probably through increased secretion of cholecystokinin and glucagon-like peptide 1.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / pharmacokinetics
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cholecystokinin / metabolism
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Gastric Emptying / drug effects
  • Gastric Emptying / physiology*
  • Gastric Inhibitory Polypeptide / metabolism
  • Ghrelin
  • Glucagon / metabolism
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Peptide Hormones / drug effects
  • Peptide Hormones / metabolism*
  • Postprandial Period
  • Satiation* / drug effects
  • Satiation* / physiology
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Ghrelin
  • Insulin
  • Peptide Hormones
  • Acetaminophen
  • Gastric Inhibitory Polypeptide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucagon
  • Cholecystokinin