Breakfasts Higher in Protein Increase Postprandial Energy Expenditure, Increase Fat Oxidation, and Reduce Hunger in Overweight Children from 8 to 12 Years of Age

J Nutr. 2015 Oct;145(10):2229-35. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.214551. Epub 2015 Aug 12.


Background: Currently 1 in every 3 children aged 2-19 y is overweight or obese. Breakfast is a key component of a healthy diet and has the potential to affect children's health.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether consumption of a protein-based breakfast (PRO) increases postprandial energy metabolism and substrate oxidation, reduces hunger, and reduces food intake at lunch compared with a carbohydrate-based breakfast (CHO) in normal weight (NW) vs. overweight/obese (OW) children.

Methods: A randomized, crossover-design study was conducted in NW (n = 16; 33 ± 1 kg) and OW (n = 13; 46 ± 2 kg) children (10 ± 1 y). Participants were served either a PRO [344 kcal, 21% protein (18 g), 52% carbohydrate, and 27% fat] or CHO [327 kcal, 4% protein (3 g), 67% carbohydrate, and 29% fat]. Energy expenditure (EE), substrate oxidation, appetite, and blood glucose were measured over a 4 h period. Four hour postprandial participants were provided with access to a lunch buffet and food intake was recorded.

Results: After breakfast, OW children in the PRO group had higher (P < 0.0001) EEs and fat oxidation over the 4 h period than did the NW children in the CHO and PRO groups. There was no difference in postprandial EE or carbohydrate oxidation between the CHO and PRO groups over the 4 h period; however, fat oxidation was 16% higher (P < 0.05) after the PRO than the CHO and postprandial carbohydrate oxidation at 4 h was 32% higher after the PRO than the CHO (P < 0.01), independent of weight group. All participants had decreased feelings of hunger (-14%; P < 0.01) and increased fullness (+32%; P < 0.05) after the PRO than the CHO. Finally, there was no difference in food intake within the NW and OW groups.

Conclusion: This study indicates that breakfast macronutrient composition affects postprandial responses in both NW and OW children. A PRO increases postprandial EE and fat oxidation, reduces hunger, and increases satiety when compared with a carbohydrate-based breakfast.

Keywords: appetite; breakfast; children; energy expenditure; fat oxidation; glucose; overweight; protein.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arkansas
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breakfast*
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lunch
  • Male
  • Overweight / diet therapy*
  • Overweight / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Postprandial Period
  • Satiety Response*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins