“Eggsistential” angst

Speaking of healthy breakfasts (as we did in Dispatch “Breakfast of champions?”), let’s set the record straight—once and for all—about eggs.

I’ve sometimes wondered whether the so-called “nutritionists” who have been anti-egg for decades now learned everything they know from the back of a cereal box.

My mentor, former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, once told me he begins each day with a couple eggs. This daily ritual got him through a full career as a surgeon, operating every day at dawn. Plus a full eight years as U.S. Surgeon General (a modern-day record). And he’s still going strong in his 90’s.

But the evidence supporting eggs isn’t just anecdotal.

A recent study suggests that eating eggs for breakfast will keep those hunger pangs away until lunchtime. And might help you control your weight. 

Some of my former colleagues now at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, conducted this three-week study. For one week, participants ate either two eggs or a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Week two was a “wash-out period.” And during the third week, the groups switched breakfasts: Those who previously got cereal now got eggs, and vice versa.

The cereal contained the same amount of calories and protein as the eggs. Yet when the subjects ate eggs, they reported feeling more full all morning—and they ate less at lunch.

Blood tests also showed when the participants ate eggs for breakfast, they had significantly lower levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin in their blood three hours after breakfast. They also had significantly higher levels of leptin, another hormone that tells the body it’s “full.” 

The satisfying effects of eggs are usually attributed to their high level of protein. But this study shows that it’s not necessarily the amount of protein you eat. It’s the type of protein that determines how satisfied you feel.

This discovery surprised the researchers. But it’s something I’ve talked about for years and again just recently—here in the Dispatch and in my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. The importance of quality—not just quantity—of the nutrients in the diet. And in the body.

And the undeniable fact is: Eggs keep you feeling full longer because they contain high-quality protein.