Protein is a key nutrient for weight loss. In fact, adding more protein to your diet is the easiest and most effective way to lose weight. Studies show that protein can help curb your appetite and keep you from overeating. Therefore, starting your day with a high-protein breakfast may be an effective weight loss tip.
Should You Eat Breakfast?
In the past, skipping breakfast has been associated with weight gain. We now have good evidence showing that recommendations to eat or skip breakfast have no effect on weight gain or loss. However, eating breakfast may be a good idea for other reasons. For example, it may improve mental performance in school children, teenagers and certain patient groups. This may also depend on the quality of the breakfast. Even if the stereotypical breakfast (like high-sugar breakfast cereal) has no effect on weight, a breakfast that is high in weight loss friendly protein may have different effects.
Bottom Line: Recommendations to eat or skip breakfast have no effect on weight. However, the same may not apply to a high-protein breakfast.
How Protein Helps You Lose Weight
Protein is the single most important nutrient for weight loss. This is because the body uses more calories to metabolize protein, compared to fat or carbs. Protein also keeps you feeling fuller for longer. One study in women showed that increasing protein intake from 15 to 30% of total calories helped them eat 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds (5 kg) in just 12 weeks. Another study found that increasing protein to 25% of total calories reduced late-night snacking by half and obsessive thoughts about food by 60%. In yet another study, two groups of women were put on weight loss diets for 10 weeks. The groups ate the same amount of calories, but different amounts of protein. All the women in the study lost weight. However, the high-protein group lost about half a kg (1.1 lbs) more, and a larger percentage of body fat. Protein may also help you maintain weight loss in the long term. A study found that increasing protein from 15 to 18% of calories made dieters regain 50% less weight.
Bottom Line: Adding protein to your diet is a very effective way to lose weight. It may also help dieters sustain long-term weight loss.
High-Protein Breakfasts Help You Eat Less Later
Many studies are examining how protein at breakfast affects eating behavior. Some of them have shown that high-protein breakfasts reduce hunger and help people eat up to 135 fewer calories later in the day. In fact, MRI scans have shown that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces the signals in the brain that control food motivation and reward-driven behavior. Protein also helps you feel full. This is because it activates the body’s signals that curb appetite, which reduces cravings and overeating. This is mostly due to a drop in the hunger hormone ghrelin and a rise in the fullness hormones peptide YY, GLP-1 and cholecystokinin. Several studies have now demonstrated that eating a high-protein breakfast changes these hormones throughout the day
Bottom Line: High-protein breakfasts reduce calorie intake later in the day. They improve the levels of your appetite-regulating hormones, leading to reduced hunger and cravings.
How Protein at Breakfast Helps You Lose Weight and Belly Fat
High-protein breakfasts can reduce appetite and cravings. They may also help you lose belly fat. Dietary protein is inversely related to belly fat, meaning the more high-quality protein you eat, the less belly fat you have. One study of obese, Chinese teens showed that replacing a grain-based breakfast with an egg-based meal led to significantly more weight loss over 3 months. The higher-protein breakfast group lost 3.9% of their body weight (about 2.4 kg or 5.3 lbs), while the lower-protein group lost only 0.2% (0.1 kg or 0.2 lbs). In another study, people on a weight loss program received either an egg breakfast or a bagel breakfast with the same amount of calories. After 8 weeks, those eating the egg breakfast had a 61% higher reduction in BMI, 65% more weight loss and a 34% greater reduction in waist measurements.
Bottom Line: Eating protein for breakfast can lead to significant weight loss, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose.
Protein May Slightly Boost Your Metabolism
Speeding up your metabolism can help you lose weight, as it makes you burn more calories. Your body uses much more calories to metabolize protein (20-30%) than carbs (5-10%) or fat (0-3%). This means you burn more calories by eating protein than by eating carbs or fat. In fact, a high protein intake has been shown to result in an extra 80 to 100 calories burned each day. A high protein diet can also help prevent muscle loss during calorie restriction, and partly prevent the reduction in metabolism that often comes with weight loss, often referred to as “starvation mode”.
Bottom Line: A high protein intake has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 100 calories per day. It can also help you maintain muscle mass and a high metabolism when you restrict calories.
Which High-Protein Foods Should You Eat For Breakfast?
In short, EGGS. Eggs are incredibly nutritious and high in protein. Replacing a grain-based breakfast with eggs has been shown to help you eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours and lose more weight and body fat. However, fish, seafood, meat, poultry and dairy products are also great sources of protein to include for breakfast.
Here are a few examples of high-protein breakfasts that can help you lose weight:
- Scrambled eggs: with veggies, fried in coconut oil or olive oil.
- An omelette: with cottage cheese and spinach (my personal favorite).
- Stir-fried tofu: with kale and dairy-free cheese.
- Greek yogurt: with wheat germ, seeds and berries.
- A shake: one scoop of whey protein, a banana, frozen berries and almond milk.
- Protein pancakes are also a very popular breakfast food at the moment.
Bottom Line: Eggs make a great, high-protein breakfast. However, other high-protein breakfast foods are also good choices.
If You Eat Breakfast, Make it High in Protein
If you do choose to eat breakfast, eat one that is rich in protein. The protein content of the breakfast meals in the studies above ranged from 18 to 41% of calories, with at least 20 total grams of protein.Read More
Many people want to lose weight. They often turn to supplements, hoping for an easy solution. However, the real-life effects of most weight loss pills and supplements are usually disappointing. One weight loss supplement that entered the market recently is called spinach extract. This supplement is claimed to cause weight loss by reducing appetite and cravings. This is a detailed review of spinach extract and its weight loss effects.
What is Spinach Extract?
Spinach extract is a weight loss supplement made from spinach leaves. It is also known by a trademark name, Appethyl, which is owned by the Swedish company Greenleaf Medical AB. Spinach extract is a green powder that can be mixed with water or smoothies. It is also sold in other forms, including capsules and snack bars. The powder consists of concentrated spinach leaf thylakoids, which are microscopic structures found inside the chloroplasts of all green plant cells. The role of the thylakoids is to harvest sunlight, which provides plants with the energy they need to produce carbs. This process is known as photosynthesis. Thylakoids are composed of about 70% proteins, antioxidants and chlorophyll, while the other 30% mostly consists of fat. Thylakoids are not unique to spinach leaves. In fact, they are found in the leaves of all green plants, and similar supplements could also be made from those plants.
Note that other supplements may also be called spinach extract. This article, however, only refers to the type of thylakoid concentrate found in Appethyl.
Bottom Line: Spinach extract is a weight loss supplement. It contains thylakoids, which consist mostly of proteins, antioxidants and chlorophyll.
How Does Spinach Extract Work?
Thylakoids from spinach extract suppress the activity of lipase, an enzyme that digests fat. This helps delay fat digestion, which increases the levels of appetite-reducing hormones like glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). It also reduces levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Unlike pharmaceutical weight loss drugs like orlistat, thylakoids cause a temporary delay in fat digestion, but do not prevent it completely. As a result, spinach extract doesn’t have the unpleasant side effects of other lipase-inhibiting drugs, such as fatty stools and stomach cramps. It is not entirely clear what part of the thylakoids is responsible for these effects, but they may be caused by certain proteins or fats called galactolipids.
Bottom Line: Spinach extract promotes weight loss by delaying fat digestion, temporarily reducing appetite and causing people to eat less.
Can Spinach Extract Help You Lose Weight?
Animal studies have shown that taking thylakoid-rich spinach extract may reduce body fat and weight. Human studies of overweight adults have shown that adding 3.7 to 5 grams of spinach extract to a meal reduces appetite for several hours. By suppressing appetite, spinach extract may lead to weight loss, if taken regularly over a few months. One study of overweight women found that eating 5 grams of spinach extract every day, during a 3-month weight loss program, resulted in 43% greater weight loss, compared to a placebo.
Body mass index (BMI), fat mass and lean mass decreased as well during the study, but there were no significant differences across groups. It should be noted, however, that some of the researchers involved in this trial have financial ties to the company that developed the supplement. Therefore, the findings need to be confirmed by an independent research group.
Bottom Line: Studies have shown that taking spinach extract supplements for a few months may cause weight loss. However, because of a potential conflict of interest, further studies are needed.
Spinach Extract May Fight Cravings
Spinach extract may suppress the brain’s food reward system, reducing cravings. When overweight women consumed 5 grams of spinach extract per day, cravings for sweets decreased by 95%. Similarly, cravings for chocolate decreased by 87%. Another study in women suggests that 5 grams of spinach extract reduces cravings for snack foods, including those that are salty, sweet and fatty. However, there were no effects on calorie intake at a later buffet. The reduction in cravings may be because spinach extract promotes the release of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which acts on the food reward system.
Bottom Line: Spinach extract may suppress the brain’s food reward system, temporarily reducing cravings. Over time, this contributes to weight loss.
Safety and Side Effects
Spinach extract does not appear to have any serious side effects. In healthy people, it may temporarily reduce insulin levels and increase blood sugar. However, it does not seem to have long-term effects on blood sugar control. Nonetheless, further studies are needed to assess the safety of spinach extract for patients with type 2 diabetes.
Bottom Line: Spinach extract may reduce insulin levels temporarily. Otherwise, its use appears to be safe and without any side effects.
Dosage, How to Use and Where to Buy
An effective dose of spinach extract is about 4–5 grams, when taken with a meal. However, you may need to take it for a few months before you see any effects on weight. Since spinach extract delays fat digestion and reduces appetite for a few hours, its effects are stronger when it’s taken before a meal that contains fat. For maximum benefits, you should also take it early in your day, such as in the morning or around noon. Also, you shouldn’t expect to see any significant benefits from the supplement alone. As with all weight loss supplements, you also need to make some lifestyle changes.
Bottom Line: Spinach extract should be taken with meals that contain fat, preferably in the morning or around noon. An effective dose is 4–5 grams per day.
Should You Try Spinach Extract?
The available evidence shows that spinach extract may be an effective weight loss supplement. By delaying fat digestion, it temporarily reduces appetite and cravings. When combined with other lifestyle modifications, this may lead to significant weight loss. However, many of the spinach extract studies have ties to the company that makes it. Further studies by independent research groups would strengthen the evidence. Just remember that spinach extract on its own won’t work any miracles. But along with some changes to your lifestyle, you may see some real benefits.Read More
Coffee is the biggest dietary source of caffeine. You can expect to get around 95 mg of caffeine from an average cup of coffee. However, this amount varies between different coffee drinks, and can range from almost zero to over 500 mg. This is a detailed guide to the caffeine content of different types and brands of coffee.
What Factors Affect Caffeine Content?
The caffeine content of coffee depends on many factors, such as:
- Type of coffee beans: There are many varieties of coffee beans available, which may naturally contain different amounts of caffeine.
- Roasting: Lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts, although the darker roasts have a deeper flavor.
- Type of coffee: The caffeine content can vary significantly between regularly brewed coffee, espresso, instant coffee and decaf coffee.
Serving size: “One cup of coffee” can range anywhere from 30–700 ml (1–24 oz), greatly affecting the total caffeine content.
Bottom Line: Caffeine content is affected by the type of coffee bean, roast style, how the coffee is prepared and the serving size.
How Much Caffeine is in a Cup of Coffee?
The main determinant of caffeine content is the type of coffee you are drinking.
Brewing is the most common way to make coffee in the US and Europe. Also known as regular coffee, brewed coffee is made by pouring hot or boiling water over ground coffee beans, usually contained in a filter. One cup of brewed coffee (8 oz) contains about 70–140 mg of caffeine, or about 95 mg on average.
Espresso is made by forcing a small amount of hot water, or steam, through finely ground coffee beans. Although espresso has more caffeine per volume than regular coffee, it usually contains less per serving, since espresso servings tend to be small. One shot of espresso is generally about 30–50 ml (1–1.75 oz), and contains about 63 mg of caffeine. A double shot of espresso therefore contains roughly 125 mg of caffeine.
Many popular coffee drinks are made from espresso shots mixed with varying types and amounts of milk. These include lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos and Americanos. Since the milk does not contain any additional caffeine, these drinks contain the same amount of caffeine as straight espresso. A single (small) contains about 63 mg of caffeine on average, and double (large) contains about 125 mg.
Instant coffee is made from brewed coffee that has been freeze-dried or spray-dried. It is generally in large, dry pieces, which dissolve in water. To prepare instant coffee, simply mix one or two teaspoons of dried coffee with hot water. There is no need for any brewing. Instant coffee usually contains less caffeine than regular coffee, with one 8-oz cup (237 ml) containing roughly 30–60 mg.
Although the name may be deceiving, decaf coffee is not entirely caffeine free. It may contain varying amounts of caffeine, ranging from 0–7 mg per cup, with the average cup containing 3 mg. However, some varieties may contain even higher amounts of caffeine, depending on the type of coffee, method of de-caffeination and cup size.
Bottom Line: The average caffeine content of an 8-oz, brewed cup of coffee is 95 mg. A single espresso or espresso-based drink contains 63 mg, and decaf coffee contains about 3 mg of caffeine (on average).
Are Commercial Brands More Caffeinated?
Some commercial coffee brands contain more caffeine than regular, home-brewed coffee. Coffee shops are also notorious for their large cup sizes, which can range up to 700 ml (24 oz). The amount of coffee in such cups is equivalent to about 3–5 regular-sized cups of coffee.
Starbucks is probably the best-known coffee shop in the world. It also offers some of the most caffeinated coffee available. The caffeine content of brewed coffee at Starbucks is as follows:
- Short (8 oz): 180 mg
- Tall (12 oz): 260 mg
- Grande (16 oz): 330 mg
- Venti (20 oz): 415 mg
Furthermore, one shot of espresso at Starbucks contains 75 mg of caffeine. Consequently, all small, espresso-based drinks also contain 75 mg of caffeine. This includes lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos and Americanos, among others. Larger sizes, which are made with two, or even three, espresso shots (16 oz), likewise contain 150 or 225 mg of caffeine. Decaf coffee from Starbucks contains 15–30 mg of caffeine, depending on cup size.
Bottom Line: An 8-oz, brewed coffee from Starbucks contains 180 mg of caffeine. A single espresso and espresso-based drinks contain 75 mg, while an 8-oz cup of decaf coffee contains about 15 mg of caffeine.
McDonald’s sells coffee all over the world, often under their McCafe brand. However, despite being one of the biggest fast food chains that sells coffee, they do not standardize or calculate the amount of caffeine in their coffee. As an estimate, the caffeine content of their brewed coffee is about:
- Small (12 oz): 109 mg
- Medium (16 oz): 145 mg
- Large (21–24 oz): 180 mg
Their espresso contains 71 mg per serving, and decaf contains 8–14 mg, depending on the size of the cup.
Bottom Line: McDonald’s doesn’t standardize the amount of caffeine in their coffee. As an estimate, a small cup of brewed coffee contains 109 mg of caffeine. Espresso contains about 71 mg, and decaf has about 8 mg.
Dunkin Donuts is another chain of coffee and donut shops that is very popular worldwide. The caffeine content of their brewed coffee is as follows:
- Small (10 oz): 215 mg
- Medium (16 oz): 302 mg
- Large (20 oz): 431 mg
- Extra large (24 oz): 517 mg
Their single espresso shot contains 75 mg of caffeine, which is also how much you can expect to get from their espresso-based drinks. Decaf coffee from Dunkin Donuts may also contain quite a bit of caffeine. According to one source, a small cup (10 oz) has 53 mg of caffeine, and a large cup (24 oz) contains 128 mg. That’s almost as much caffeine as you find in other varieties of regular coffee.
Bottom Line: A small cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts contains 215 mg of caffeine, while a single espresso contains 75 mg. Interestingly, their decaf coffee may contain as much as 53-128 mg of caffeine.
Is Caffeine Something to Worry About?
Coffee is high in antioxidants, and many studies show that it is good for your health. However, getting too much caffeine is linked to adverse effects like anxiety, sleep disruptions, heart palpitations and restlessness. Consuming 400–600 mg/day of caffeine is generally not associated with adverse effects in most people. This is about 6 mg/kg (3 mg/lb) of body weight, or 4–6 average cups of coffee per day. That being said, caffeine affects people very differently. Some are very sensitive to it while others find themselves unaffected by large amounts. This is largely due to genetic differences. You’ll just have to experiment and see what amount suits you best.Read More