Dinner is usually prime time for protein, as we fill our plates with meats, beans, fish, and dairy. But if you want to hit your protein goal for the day (which, for the record, is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for sedentary adults), you might want to get a head start at breakfast. .
Not only does protein at breakfast keep you full until lunch and aid recovery after a morning workout, eating it earlier in the day can also have other surprising benefits. A study of young women found that those who ate a high-protein breakfast were less likely to snack late in the evening. Other research on overweight and obese youth found that adding extra protein to their first meal of the day prevented body fat gain.
It may be time to rethink the protein potential of breakfast! Still, most of us aren’t about to grill a steak or a chicken breast first thing in the morning. So what foods make for a convenient, high-protein breakfast? These 7 are a good start. Read on and for more, don’t miss 28 Protein-Rich Breakfasts That Will Fill You Up.
Protein for 1 large egg: 6 grams
The centerpiece of many breakfast burritos and morning omelettes, eggs are one of the most obvious choices for adding protein to breakfast. They’re inexpensive, easy to cook in a way that won’t bore you, and have a savory taste that pairs well with just about anything.
Then there’s the fact that each little white orb contains 6 grams of protein! By scrambling or poaching just two eggs, you’ll get 25% of the daily value of 50 grams. As an animal product, eggs are also classified as a “complete” protein, which means they contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs from food.
Worried about egg cholesterol? Research on the impact of eggs on heart health is constantly evolving. If you have high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about how often you should eat them, and try pairing them with fiber-rich, nutrient-dense foods like leafy greens, whole-wheat toast, or fresh fruits.
Protein per 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, 1% fat: 14 grams
All dairy products contain protein, but not all cheese is created equal when it comes to this macro.
Due to the high ratio of casein to whey in cottage cheese, it happens to be a protein powerhouse. Some brands of cottage cheese contain around 10 grams per serving, but try Organic Valley’s low-fat variety, which contains 15 grams and only 100 calories per ½ cup!
For breakfast, mini curds require minimal preparation effort. Spread cottage cheese on a bagel or toast (any bagel seasoning makes a tasty topping) or mix in your favorite berries for a quick meal high in protein and fiber.
Protein per 7 oz container of Greek yogurt: 20 grams
Another dairy choice, Greek yogurt is gaining its prestige when it comes to protein. Example: A small 5 ounce container of Fage 2% plain Greek yogurt contains 15 grams. Like cottage cheese, the Greek version of this dairy product gets its epic protein content from higher levels of casein than traditional yogurt. And while some people steer clear of dairy for fear of fat, research shows that due to their satiety factor, milk protein may aid weight loss and improve overall metabolic health.
Need inspiration to go Greek for breakfast? Try freezing Greek yogurt with maple syrup and dried fruit for a tasty “bark”, add a little to oats overnight.
Protein per 3 oz serving of smoked salmon: 16 grams
When you have salmon with any meal, you probably know you’re making a good choice. These oily fish are packed with brain-boosting omega-3s, immune-supporting vitamin D, and, of course, protein.
Then again, after rolling out of bed on a busy weekday, you might not think of grabbing a pan-fried salmon fillet. For breakfast, try the smoked salmon instead. A 3-ounce serving provides 16 grams of protein, just 1 gram less than the 17 you’d get from the same serving of regular salmon. The pre-cooked slices can easily top bagels, mix into an egg scramble, or make a unique breakfast sandwich you won’t find at most drive-thru.
Protein per 1/4 cup of oats: 6 grams
Most of us (correctly) associate protein with animal products like meat and dairy, but some grains also contain respectable amounts. You can consider oatmeal as a source of solid protein. Ounce for ounce, steel-cut oats are generally the highest protein choice, with about 6 grams per quarter cup.
Besides being high in protein, oats can be a vehicle for even more of that macro from tasty blends. Consider a protein upgrade from nuts like almonds or walnuts, a swirl of Greek yogurt, or even a scoop of protein powder. Or, for even more convenience, take oatmeal overnight like Mush’s Vanilla Almond Crunch, which already contains blended almonds.
Protein for 2 tablespoons of peanut butter/almond butter: 7 grams
The possibilities for nut butter for breakfast are nearly endless. In addition to the usual peanut butter schmear on toast, you can put a dollop of nut butter in oatmeal, smoothies, muffins, or snack balls. Doing so will increase your protein intake. Two tablespoons of peanut butter and almond butter contain about 7 grams of protein.
An intriguing study in the British Journal of Nutrition even found that, in obese women, eating peanut butter for breakfast helped control blood sugar and appetite throughout the day. When choosing your perfect hazelnut spread, just check the labels to make sure you’re not getting added sugars and fats. Quality peanut butter only requires two ingredients: peanuts and salt.
Protein for 1 cup quinoa, cooked: 8 grams
Quinoa for breakfast? Don’t hit it until you try it! We predict this super nutritious grain could become a new breakfast trend because it’s high in protein (8 grams per cup), fiber, folate, copper, iron and zinc. (Plus, its mild, nutty flavor is perfect for a palate-pleasant start to the day.)
If you made a big batch for dinner, save some extra quinoa for the next morning by sprinkling on a yogurt parfait or even an omelet. Or consider making a quick quinoa porridge from scratch, cooking the grains on the stovetop with milk and cinnamon until they resemble oatmeal.
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