If you feel hungry all the time, your morning meal (or lack thereof) could be to blame: Eating a protein-rich breakfast may help control appetite and curb the urge to snack in the evening, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The research, conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia, included 20 overweight or obese females aged 18 to 20 who normally skipped breakfast. Participants rotated through three different groups: a group that ate a 350-calorie cereal breakfast that contained 13 grams of protein, a group that ate a 350-calorie breakfast made of eggs and lean beef that contained 35 grams of protein, and a group that skipped breakfast.

After six days of following an assigned eating pattern, the women went through a day of testing, during which they provided blood samples, answered questionnaires about their hunger/satiety level, underwent brain scans, and were offered a variety of post-dinner snacks. Researchers gave participants a week off between each phase of the experiment.

After having a protein-packed breakfast, participants reported feeling less hungry and ate fewer indulgent snacks after dinner. What’s more, the brains of people who had eaten a protein-rich meal in the a.m. showed less activity in response to images of food later in the day. "Eating a high-protein breakfast stimulates the secretion of a very potent satiety signal (the gut hormone Peptide YY), leading to increased fullness,” says Heather Leidy, PhD, lead author of the study. "These responses appear to last throughout the morning hours and into the afternoon/evening."

Even if you're not big on meat, you can still reap the hunger-busting benefits of eating a high-protein breakfast, Leidy says. Just try to incorporate plain Greek yogurt, nuts, cottage cheese, or soy-based meat substitutes into your a.m. meal. Not a breakfast person? These tasty protein-packed options will change your mind:

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Yogurt and Berry Parfaits

Calories: 445 Fat: 11.1 grams Saturated Fat: 1.5 grams Protein: 29 grams 6 ounces firm tofu 1 tablespoon honey 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest 1 1/2 cups fat-free plain Greek-style yogurt 1 cup sliced strawberries 1 cup blueberries 1/2 cup homemade or low-fat granola Makes two servings More: 17 Power Foods


Smoked Turkey Hash

Calories: 386.5 Fat: 13.7 grams Saturated Fat: 3.7 grams Protein: 36.3 grams 2 teaspoons vegetable oil 1 large onion, coarsely chopped 1 small green bell pepper, coarsely chopped 1 pound cooked red potatoes, cubed 1 smoked turkey drumstick (1 pound), skinned, boned, and cubed 1 egg white, lightly beaten 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/8 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons fat-free milk Makes four servings More: 5 Fatty Foods That Make You Skinny


Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon, Asparagus, and Goat Cheese

Calories: 328.2 Fat: 20.4 grams Saturated Fat 8.6 grams Protein: 33.9 grams 1 tbsp butter 8 stalks asparagus, woody bottoms removed, chopped into 1" pieces salt and black pepper to taste 8 eggs 2 tbsp fat-free milk 1/4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese 4 oz smoked salmon, chopped Makes two servings More: 12 Foods For a Flat Belly


Fruit-Filled Protein Shake

Calories: 381.5 Fat: 5.1 grams Saturated Fat: 1.9 grams Protein: 50.6 grams 1/2 tsp crystal light drink mix 10 oz 1% milk 1/2 banana handful of blueberries about 1 tbsp pineapple juice or a few pineapple chunks 2 scoops whey protein powder More: The Worst Drinks At The Supermarket


Banana Protein Pancakes

Calories: 496.6 Fat: 8.3 grams Saturated Fat: 2.4 grams Protein: 27.1 grams 1/3 cup vanilla whey protein powder 1/3 cup whole grain pastry flour or all-purpose flour 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats 1 packet (1 gram) stevia or other sugar alternative 1 teaspoon hain pure foods featherweight baking powder 1 banana, mashed 1 large egg 1 tablespoon fat-free plain yogurt Makes three servings More: When Whole Grains Aren't Healthy.


Protein Cottage Cheese

Calories: 313.9 Fat: 10 grams Saturated Fat: 2 grams Protein: 35.2 grams 1 cup(s) cottage cheese 1 tablespoon(s) flavored protein powder 1/8 cup(s) sliced almonds 1/2 cup(s) mixed berries 1 envelope/packet(s) sugar substitute 1 drop(s) fat free milk Makes a single serving More: 15 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.

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