Eat a high-protein breakfast such as the Poliquin Meat and Nut Breakfast for optimal body composition. A fascinating new study shows that one reason eating protein for breakfast supports body composition is the role that vitamin D and calcium play in fat burning, thermogenesis, and overall food intake.
The study found that if you eat a high-protein breakfast with a nice dose of vitamin D and calcium, your body will burn more total energy processing the meal. Plus, more of the energy that is burned for fuel will be fat.
A group of subjects ate a breakfast that contained low calcium and vitamin D or high calcium and vitamin D, but was matched for macronutrient and total energy content. Then researchers measured the rate that the body burned fat and carbohydrates for energy as well as the thermic effect of food. They also recorded the amount and type of food the participants ate at lunch and dinner.
Results showed that after eating breakfast containing high calcium and vitamin D, participants had a significantly higher thermic effect of food and burned more fat for fuel than the group that ate the low calcium and vitamin D breakfast. In addition, the high calcium/vitamin D group ate fewer calories than the low calcium/vitamin D group in the next 24 hours, primarily due to a significantly lower carbohydrate intake (participants were allowed to eat as much and whatever they wanted at lunch and dinner and food intake was recorded).
Researchers suggest that in addition to elevated metabolism, and greater fat oxidation, hunger was suppressed by the greater vitamin D and calcium in the breakfast. The high calcium-vitamin D group ate about 320 calories less than the low calcium-vitamin D group over lunch and dinner combined.
The take away from this study is that you should eat breakfast daily with a high-protein content that includes protein sources that are naturally high in vitamin D and calcium. Simply eating more protein increases the amount of calories required to breakdown the meal—protein has the highest thermic effect, followed by carbs, and then fats. Protein also supports tissue and muscle rebuilding, and the majority of protein sources are naturally high in calcium. However, meat, fish, and dairy are the only foods that provide vitamin D.
All these factors combined indicate that protein from meat or fish will provide the best breakfast for body composition since meat and fish contain a better amino acid profile than plant-based proteins such as beans and seeds. A breakfast including meat will also support neurotransmitter production so that you will feel energized throughout the day. To read more about my suggestion for the very BEST breakfast, check out the link to the article on the Poliquin Meat and Nut Breakfast at the bottom of this article.
Be aware that you will likely want to supplement with vitamin D as well because studies show that it is very difficult to fulfill your vitamin D needs from your diet alone. Of course, the body makes vitamin D in response to the sun, so if you get daily sun exposure, your levels may be adequate (in the 40 ng/ml range), but it is wise to get tested because this nutrient is SO essential for body comp and health.
In terms of calcium, men rarely need supplemental calcium if they eat adequate protein, and studies have linked supplemental calcium intake in men with heart attacks. Women may want to supplement with calcium, however, if you get adequate protein and vitamin D, this is probably not necessary. A recent large-scale study in the British Medical Journal showed that in women, 700 to 800 milligrams of calcium day is sufficient for bone health. Be aware that intakes of 1,000 milligrams of calcium have been associated with increased risk of heart disease in women.
Ping-Delfos, W., Soares, M.. Diet Induced Thermogenesis, Fat Oxidation and Food Intake Following Sequential Meals: Influence of Calcium and Vitamin D. Clinical Nutrition. 2011. 30, 376-383.
Warensjo, E., Byber, L., et al. Dietary Calcium Intake and Risk of Fracture and Osteoporosis. British Medical Journal. 2011. 342, d1473.