WE’VE all reached for the biscuit tin to perk us up during the post-lunch slump but now eggs are being hailed as an unlikely alternative.

Scientists have discovered that proteins found in egg whites help us feel more alert and are a more effective alternative to the carbohydrates found in sweet treats.

The Cambridge University study looked at how nutrients affect the brain cells responsible for burning calories and keeping us awake.

A mixture similar to the protein content of egg whites activated these cells, leading to the release of the stimulant, orexin.

Sugar, on the other hand, blocked the release of orexin.

Researcher Dr Denis Burdakov said: “What is exciting is to have a rational way to ‘tune’ select brain cells to be more or less active by deciding what food to eat.

“Research suggests that if you have a choice between jam on toast, or egg whites on toast, go for the latter.

“Even though the two may contain the same number of calories, having a bit of protein will tell the body to burn more calories out of those consumed.”

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