Eat breakfast. Eat protein. If you're trying to lose weight, those are two tips you shouldn't ignore. And, if you combine them by starting each day with a high-protein breakfast, well, you're pretty much unstoppable.
"Eating at least 30 grams of protein at breakfast can help you feel satisfied and less hungry later in the day," explains Amy Goodson, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant based in Dallas, Texas. "This is great for women looking to lose weight." The trick, she says, is that protein takes longer to digest than traditional carbohydrate-heavy breakfast foods like cereal or muffins. And the longer it takes to digest, the less hungry you'll feel and the more likely you'll be to stick to your healthy eating goals.
For example, in one recent study, people who started their days with between 30 to 39 grams of protein ended up eating 175 fewer calories at lunchtime. In another Nutrition Metabolism study, dieters who increased their protein intake so that they were getting 30 percent of their daily calories from protein lost about 11 pounds in 12 weeks.
Still, if you've ever tried following a high-protein diet, you know that upping your protein intake isn't always easy...especially if you don't have your recipe arsenal stocked with high-protein breakfast ideas.
Enter: nutritionists, bloggers, and chefs. They're here to offer their high-protein breakfast ideas, from sweet and savory options to vegan or paleo picks. There's something everyone will love on this list.
Blueberry Protein Oatmeal
Oatmeal on its own is a delicious breakfast full of fiber and whole grains, but you can round it out and amp up the nutrition by adding protein-packed ingredients like flax meal, chia seeds, soy or almond milk, or protein powder, says Kimberly M. Neva, RD, a dietitian and bariatric specialist at Loyola University Medical Center. Her favorite is 1/3 cup oats topped with 1 scoop protein powder, 1 tablespoon flax seeds, and 1/2 cup blueberries. That's right, you can stir flavored or unflavored protein powder right into your oatmeal.
Per serving: 329 calories, 21 g protein, 11 g fat, 50 g carbs, 8 g fiber
Oat Yogurt Cups
Another option to increase the protein in your oatmeal is to add a couple of dollops of Greek yogurt, Neva says. Sprinkle with cinnamon for extra flavor. "This packs 11 grams of protein per serving and is easy to take on the road with you," she says. "Plus, you get filling fiber and healthy probiotics." One servings is 1/3 cup oats and 4 ounces of flavored, low-fat Greek yogurt.
Per serving: 196 calories, 15 g protein, 5 g fat, 33 g carbs, 6 g fiber
Mini Egg Frittatas
If eggs for breakfast sounds boring, try these individual frittatas, Neva says. Mix 2 whole eggs and 1 extra egg white together with 2 ounces of sautéed vegetables. For even more protein, add 3 ounces of turkey sausage. Simply pour the mixture into muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until you can insert a knife in them and it comes out clean (in a standard-size muffin tin, that will be about 20 to 25 minutes). One serving is two egg cups. These are a perfect option if you're not a morning person, as they can be made ahead and then reheated quickly on your way out the door, she adds.
Per serving: 353 calories, 31 g protein, 17 g fat, 17 g carbs, 2 g fiber
Turkish Fried Egg
Looking for an exotic flavor? Try this modified version of a popular Turkish dish, courtesy of Marina Rösser, senior nutrition specialist for the fitness and diet app Freeletics. Sauté red onion, garlic, frozen spinach, and sliced chili peppers in a little olive oil. Once the veggies are soft, add an egg and finish cooking. Top with full-fat Greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt. "The combination creamy yogurt, fragrant olive oil, spicy chili and lemon is irresistible," she says.
Per serving: 200 calories, 15 g protein, 12 g fat, 11 g carbs, 1 g fiber
Cottage Cheese Bowl
When it comes to increasing your protein intake, low-fat cottage cheese is an option many people overlook. The nutrition, taste, cost, and ease of preparation make it a great addition to your breakfast rotation, Rösser says. (Note: Low-fat cottage cheese has more protein per serving than full-fat, although both are great options.) She recommends filling a bowl with 1 cup cottage cheese, mixing in 1/4 cup black beans, and topping with tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper.
Per serving: 240 calories, 28 g protein, 5 g fat, 20 g carbs, 4 g fiber
Check out these three cottage cheese bowls for inspiration:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Porridge
Sometimes you just have to have something sweet for breakfast and with this simple dish you can have your protein and the taste you crave, Rösser says. Mix together 1/3 cup oats cooked, 2 tablespoon natural peanut butter, 1 teaspoon dark cacao powder, and 1/2 banana. Top with yogurt or your choice of milk.
Per serving: 363 calories, 16 g protein, 20 g fat, 52 g carbs, 4 g fiber
Minty Quark Shake
Never heard of quark? It's a German-style yogurt, similar to Greek yogurt, but with more protein and a texture like cheesecake. This thicker consistency makes it ideal for whipping up a decadent, creamy protein shake. Rösser's favorite concoction: 1/2 cup Quark, 1/4 c cucumber, a few mint leaves, a 1/4 cup of milk, and a pinch of salt.
Per serving: 109 calories, 15 g protein, 3 g fat, 6 g carbs, 0 g fiber
This egg, onion, and tomato dish is a breakfast staple in Israel. In fact, the name literally means "breakfast," Rösser says. Simply cook a sauce of 1/4 cup sliced onions, 1/2 sliced red bell pepper, 1 tomato, and 1/4 teaspoon paprika. Place two cooked eggs on a slice of whole-grain bread and smother it in the sauce. Top with parsley leaves, chili flakes, salt, and pepper for more flavor.
Per serving: 237 calories, 17 g protein, 10 g fat, 21 g carbs, 4 g fiber
Crunchy Scrambled Eggs
Take your basic scrambled eggs to the next level by adding 2 tablespoons of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower seeds, and/or flax), 4 chopped cherry tomatoes, and 1/4 cup of arugula to 2 cooked eggs. This combo adds protein, fiber, flavor, and a satisfying crunch to an otherwise ordinary dish, Rösser says.
Per serving: 219 calories, 16 g protein, 16 g fat, 3 g carbs, 1 g fiber
Smoked Salmon Toast
Fish is an excellent breakfast food. Not only does it have a ton of protein, but the healthy omega-3 fats can help everything from your skin to your brain. Breakfast is all about simplicity, so Rösser recommends keeping things easy by putting 3 ounces of smoked salmon or trout on one slice of whole-grain toast. Optional toppings include cottage cheese, grated horseradish, dijon mustard, chopped parsley, chopped dill, chopped chives, lemons, or salt and pepper.
Per serving: 169 calories, 20 g protein, 5 g fat, 11 g carbs, 2 g fiber
Start your morning off right with a simple parfait made of 1 container of plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup berries and 1/4 cup muesli, suggests Sonja Kukuljian, PhD, RD, group general manager of nutrition at Freedom Foods. Muesli is a whole-grain cereal often eaten uncooked. There are lots of variations, so pick one high in fiber and low in sugar; Kukuljian suggests one containing barley, since it's got both fiber and protein.
Per serving: 188 calories, 7 g protein, 8 g fat, 23 g carbs, 3 g fiber
Poached Eggs on Sourdough
Put a twist on standard eggs by poaching an egg in a little vinegar, Kukuljian says. Add a slice of whole-grain sourdough toast (a source of pre- and probiotics) and 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and you've got a healthy, filling meal.
Per serving: 173 calories, 9 g protein, 9 g fat, 15 g carbs, 2 g fiber
Crustless Mini Quiches
You can't go wrong with eggs and veggies in the morning, and you can get both in these grab-and-go crustless quiches, says Jennifer Clemente, who runs Body Bliss Nutrition. Simply mix six eggs with any type of vegetables you like—she likes to add 1/4 cup chopped sweet potato, 1 asparagus spear, 1/2 cup kale, and 1/4 cup red onion are her favorites—add seasonings like garlic, sea salt, parsley, and cilantro. Bake in the oven at 350 until you can insert a knife in them and it comes out clean. This makes three servings loaded with fiber, protein, and an incredibly wide range of nutrients including vitamins A, C, E, K, B1, B2, B6, and B12, as well as folate and chromium, she says.
Per serving: 190 calories, 12 g protein, 9 g fat, 11 g carbs, 2 g fiber
In the world of protein powders, collagen deserves more love, Clemente says. Collagen powder is pure protein that's cheap, flavorless, and dissolves well in shakes. She likes to blend 2 scoops unflavored collagen powder with 1 cup plant milk, 1/2 cup berries, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, and 1 tablespoon nut butter. The best part? Collagen is no ordinary protein—it may help give you plump glowing skin, reduce joint pain, strengthen nails, hair and teeth, and can improve intestinal conditions and digestion, she adds.
Per serving: 384 calories, 32 g protein, 18 g fat, 22 g carbs, 11 g fiber
Amped-Up Avocado Toast
Avocado toast has long been a trendy breakfast food, and with good reason. It provides a healthy dose of fats and fiber. But it can be improved, says Alana Kessler, RDN. Give yours a nutritional boost by putting one cooked egg and 1/4 avocado on top of one slice of whole-grain toast and sprinkling with one tablespoon of nutritional yeast. This adds filling protein and B vitamins.
Per serving: 270 calories, 15 g protein, 15 g fat, 20 g carbs, 8 g fiber
Your fave breakfast dish is packed with protein courtesy of this recipe from Charlie Seltzer, MD, a doctor specializing in weight loss. Simply blend these ingredients until smooth: 1/2 cup each of egg whites, oatmeal, and 1% cottage cheese along with 1 teaspoon baking soda. Cook the batter like a pancake, approximately one minute each side or until browned. These pancakes contain lots of protein for the amount of calories.
Per serving: 320 calories, 35 g protein, 5 g fat, 32 g carbs, 4 g fiber
Protein Breakfast Sandwich
When you hear "breakfast sandwich," you probably think egg McMuffins. Seltzer's sandwich recipe, however, packs in the protein and fiber for minimal calories without sacrificing taste. Start with one toasted high-fiber English muffin. Add an egg, a slice of cheese, and two slices of Canadian bacon or ham.
Per serving: 365 calories, 30 g protein, 18 g fat, 27 g carbs, 8 g fiber
Leafy green vegetables are one of the best foods you can eat for your health. Try them as a nest for eggs, as recommended by Brooke Alpert, RD, author of The Diet Detox. Grab several large handfuls of greens (spinach, kale, mustard, etc.), and put in a hot pan. Stir until wilted, about one minute. Top with two eggs cooked to runny-yolked perfection. Add a little salt and pepper, and enjoy.
Per serving: 192 calories, 15 g protein, 8 g fat, 14 g carbs, 2 g fiber
Omelettes are a great way to combine eggs with flavorful veggies, meats, and cheeses for a protein-packed nutritious breakfast. "My favorite omelette is two eggs cooked with 1/4 cup mushrooms, 1/4 cup chopped onions, and one ounce feta cheese, topped with basil and tomatoes," says Elin Östman, PhD, nutrition researcher and founder of Good Idea. "Eggs are a great source of protein, the different colored veggies are packed with polyphenols, and the cheese provides calcium and flavor."
Per serving: 215 calories, 16 g protein, 15 g fat, 5 g carbs, 1 g fiber
Surprise: Scrambles don't have to be eggs. You can still get the flavor and protein by subbing 3/4 cup tofu for eggs, says Shahzadi Devje, RD. Not only does tofu provide protein, but it's also a great source of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, she says. All you do is mash firm tofu and stir in a mixture of sautéed onion, garlic, and red bell pepper (or your veggies of choice). Then cook on the stove. She recommends serving your scramble with either sprouted grain bread, roti, or breakfast potatoes.
Per serving: 153 calories, 16 g protein, 8 g fat, 7 g carbs, 4 g fiber
Almond Butter Crackers
Want something simple, protein-packed, and filling that doesn't require any prep or cooking? Devje's favorite super-easy breakfast is 2 Wasa rye crackers spread with 2 tablespoon almond butter and sprinkled with one tablespoon each of seeds and dried fruit. Add a glass of soy milk and you have a serving of protein in less time than it takes you to look up a recipe.
Per serving: 357 calories, 12 g protein, 22 g fat, 35 g carbs, 7 g fiber
Vanilla Almond Chia Pudding
Chia seeds are packed with protein and fiber, but that's not what makes them special—foodies love them for their ability to add a pudding-like texture to sweet treats. Try this recipe from RDN, Danielle Judson: Combine 3 tablespoons chia seeds with 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk of choice), 2 tablespoons almond butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and a dash of cinnamon in a mason jar. Stick the entire thing in the fridge overnight. In the morning, add a sprinkle of blueberries and almonds, and you've got breakfast pudding to go.
Per serving: 446 calories, 17 g protein, 35 g fat, 29 g carbs, 22 g fiber
Vegan Hummus Toast
If you're into savory breakfast, this hummus toast from Minimalist Baker will satisfy your craving and fill you up. Toast 2 slices of sprouted wheat bread, then top with 1/4 cup hummus, 1 tablespoon hemp seeds, and 1 tablespoon roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds for an added protein boost.
Per serving: 316 calories, 19 g protein, 16 g fat, 24 g carbs, 11 g fiber
Chocolate Pomegranate Overnight Oats
If cooking oatmeal in the mornings sounds like a pain (no judgement here!), overnight oats are the perfect solution. Try this nutrient-rich, protein-packed variety, courtesy of Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. Combine 1/3 cup oats, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 4 ounces plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon chia seeds, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder, and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds. "The balance of protein and fiber from the oats and fruit will delay digestion and help to keep your energy levels up much longer than a high-carb meal, plus the chia seeds absorb up to 10 times their weight in water to help keep you full," she says.
Per serving: 415 calories, 30 g protein, 15 g fat, 42 g carbs, 8 g fiber
Bread Pudding In a Mug
Bread pudding is the ultimate comfort food in the morning, but it doesn't have to be a calorie bomb. Indulge with this healthy version from Harris-Pincus. Mix one egg, 2 tablespoons vanilla whey protein powder, a packet of stevia, and 2 tablespoons milk. Fold in 1/4 cup chopped apple and one slice of cubed whole-grain bread. Pour in a mug, and microwave for one minute. Top with cinnamon.
Per serving: 291 calories, 32 g protein, 8 g fat, 23 g carbs, 3 g fiber
Four ounces of smoked salmon on one paleo wrap with roasted vegetables, greens, and 1/4 avocado is the go-to breakfast for chef Elizabeth Trattner. "This yummy wrap is high in healthy fats and fiber, which keeps you full longer and helps you lose weight and lower cholesterol," she says. The best part, however, is how customizable this is. Swap out the low-carb wrap for a whole-grain option, trade the salmon for chicken or eggs, and use any type of veggies you like.
Per serving: 327 calories, 29 g protein, 16 g fat, 22 g carbs, 15 g fiber
Hard-Boiled Eggs and Quinoa
Make a big batch over the weekend: Bring water to rolling boil on stove, place 6 eggs in pan, cover, and remove from heat. Let it sit for 12 minutes. Goodson suggests pairing 2 hard-boiled eggs with 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, which is also high in protein, and berries.
Per serving: 237 calories, 15 g protein, 10 g fat, 20 g carbs, 3 g fiber
Tacos are an anytime food, as shown by this recipe for breakfast tacos, courtesy of Jerlyn Jones, RDN. Take one whole-grain wrap, add 1/4 cup black beans, 2 scrambled eggs, lettuce, salsa, and 1/4 cup avocado. The beans and eggs provide protein, while the avocado provides healthy fats and the veggies bring the vitamins. Plus, it's perfectly portable.
Per serving: 476 calories, 22 g protein, 20 g fat, 47 g carbs, 14 g fiber
Who doesn't love toast in the morning? But the regular butter-and-jam variety is little better than a doughnut when it comes to nutrition. Add protein and nutrients with Jones' toast. Start with one slice whole-grain bread, spread it with 1 tablespoon nut butter of your choice, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chia seeds. This combo provides protein along with a hefty dose of fiber and fats.
Per serving: 237 calories, 10 g protein, 14 g fat, 21 g carbs, 10 g fiber
Eggs, canned salmon, and feta are the only ingredients in the Mediterranean breakfast muffins that Rima Kleiner, RD, author of Dish on Fish, makes. They may be simple—combine 2 eggs, 2 ounces salmon, and 1/4 cup feta and bake in muffin tins (set your oven to 350 degrees) for about to 20 to 25 minutes—but there's nothing basic about their nutrition. They pack plenty of protein and healthy fats, all in a portable, tasty package. Make a large batch and freeze extras to be microwaved on busy mornings.
Per serving: 300 calories, 27 g protein, 22 g fat, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber
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