New Study on Teens Fuelled by High-Protein Lean Pork

US - A newly released study by the University of Missouri reinforces what most farm mothers already know: teenagers who eat a high-protein lean pork breakfast may consume fewer sugary snacks later in the day.
calendar icon 30 April 2013
clock icon 5 minute read

The recent 12-week study suggests that, for teenagers, eating a protein-rich breakfast that includes lean ham or pork sausage reduces daily hunger, increases daily fullness, improves morning blood sugar control and leads to less late-day snacking, thus reducing calories from fat and sugar.1 This is especially true for teens who normally skip breakfast all together.

"This new Pork Checkoff-funded study further validates the important role of high-protein lean pork in a balanced diet," says Conley Nelson, National Pork Board president and Algona, Iowa, producer, "Pork producers work hard to provide consumers with healthy, affordable protein choices for the family table. Parents can feel good about including pork as part of the morning meal because it provides healthy fuel to support their teenagers' busy day while reducing the urge to reach for empty-calorie afternoon snacks."

As many as 20 to 30 per cent of US adolescents do not eat breakfast and are dubbed "breakfast skippers,"2 a habit associated with excess body weight, according to The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.3 Teens who were assigned as part of the study to eat a high-protein breakfast experienced a decreased intake of about 400 calories later in the day.

However, those who continued to skip breakfast, as well as those who ate the same number of calories for breakfast but had much less protein, did not reduce daily intake. The 400-calorie decrease seen in the high-protein breakfast group was due to voluntarily eating fewer high-fat/high-sugar snacks in the late afternoon and evening.

Both breakfast groups, totaling 54 teenage boys and girls, consumed 350-calorie meals. However, the lower-protein group consumed high-carbohydrate, ready-to-eat cereals. The high-protein group consumed meals containing foods such as pork and egg burritos, lean ham with protein-rich pancakes and raspberry syrup, or protein-rich blueberry waffles with syrup and a pork sausage patty. Both breakfasts had the same amount of fat - about 20 per cent of total calories.

"Nutritionists always tout the importance of breakfast, but now we understand just how powerful choosing to eat lean protein, like pork sausage or ham, at breakfast can be, especially for those who typically skip breakfast," said study lead Dr Heather Leidy, assistant professor in the University of Missouri's Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. "Based on this research, taking the time each morning to eat a healthy breakfast - one consisting of about 40 per cent of calories from carbohydrates and 40 per cent of calories from protein - leads to reduced snacking later in the day, thanks to the satiating effects of protein early in the day."

The new findings concerning teen breakfast-skippers is consistent with past research with adult men, which demonstrated the benefits of including lean pork in three daily meals - not just at breakfast - as a way to reduce late-night desires to eat, increase feelings of fullness and decrease distracting thoughts about food.4, 5 The new study also is consistent with a similar study, conducted by the same University of Missouri researchers, suggesting a breakfast high in protein significantly improves appetite control and reduces unhealthy evening snacking for overweight or obese adolescent females.6

"Increasing evidence suggests that incorporating lean pork in to the diet can help with appetite control and body weight management, while also providing key nutrients that growing teens and adults alike need in their daily diet," Dr Leidy added.

More than simply a good source of protein, lean pork also provides several vitamins and minerals, including thiamin, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.7 Plus, today's most popular cuts have 16 per cent less total fat and 27 per cent less saturated fat than they did 20 years ago. Cuts of pork that come from the loin - including chops and roasts - and 96-per cent lean ground pork are the leanest cuts of pork available.

1 Leidy H, Hoertel H, Douglas S, Shafer R. Daily addition of a protein-rich breakfast for long-term improvements in energy intake regulation and body weight management in overweight & obese 'Breakfast Skipping' young people. Experimental Biology; April 2013

2 The American Academy of Pediatrics, The Case for Eating Breakfast. Accessed December 28, 2012 from

3 US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Health and Human Services. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, pg. 19.,

4 Leidy H, Tang M, Armstrong C, Martin C, Campbell W. The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Obesity. 2011; 19:818-824.

5 Leidy H, Bossingham M, Mattes R, Campbell W. Increased dietary protein consumed at breakfast leads to an initial and sustained feeling of fullness during energy restriction compared to other meal times. British Journal of Nutrition. 2009; 101(6):798-803.

6 1.H. J. Leidy, L. C. Ortinau, S. M. Douglas, H. A. Hoertel. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulations in overweight/obese, 'breakfast-skipping,' late-adolescent girls. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013; 97 (4):677 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.112.053116.

7 Murphy M, Spungen J, Bi X, Barraj L. Fresh and fresh lean pork are substantial sources of key nutrients when these products are consumed by adults in the United States. Nutrition Research. 2011; 31(10):776-83.

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