The 7 best protein foods to eat for breakfast

Many traditional breakfast bread options, cereals, bagels and pastries are high in carbohydrates and low in protein. It’s understandable to turn to these foods, especially since carbs give you a quick energy boost. However, carbohydrates are digested quickly, leaving you hungry again soon after.

There are several benefits to adding protein to breakfast, including increased satiety and satisfaction. In addition, protein is necessary for good overall health. Protein makes up most of cells, organs and muscles. The amount of protein we store changes constantly, so it’s best to spread your protein intake throughout the day to support your body’s needs, says Patricia Kolesa, MS, RDN, founder of Dietitian Dish LLC. And that starts with adapting high-protein foods in the morning.

We talked to Kolesa and other nutrition experts about which protein-packed foods you should be eating more of and how to incorporate them into your breakfast.

Benefits of eating protein in the morning

Provides long-lasting energy

Although carbs can give you that quick boost, protein sticks around. Protein-rich foods take longer for our bodies to digest, which means they’ll keep us feeling full and satisfied longer than if we just reach for a piece of fruit for breakfast, says Catherine Karnatz, MPH. , RD, owner of Nutrition Education RD.

Since eating protein in the morning keeps you feeling full and satisfied for longer, protein can also minimize snacking before lunch and prevent overeating later in the day, adds Lilian Nwora, RD, CDCES, a registered dietitian. registered and certified diabetes care and education specialist.

Helps manage blood sugar

Studies show that protein in the morning helps manage blood sugar. Eating protein in the morning helps stabilize blood sugar levels and can prevent a midday crash and brain fog, says Nwora.

Even better: the benefits are long-lasting. A high-protein breakfast has also been shown to reduce postprandial blood glucose levels after lunch and dinner, adds Eliza Whitaker, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and medical nutrition advisor for Dietitian Insights. She also points out that minimizing the rise in blood sugar after meals can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Improves heart health

People who prioritize protein in the morning tend to have better heart health. Some protein sources provide healthy polyunsaturated fats, promoting healthy cholesterol levels, so it’s important to choose protein foods wisely. Increasing protein in the morning has been linked to lower blood pressure and increased HDL (good) cholesterol, says Sheri Gaw, RDN, CDCES, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for Dietitian Insights.

Builds and repairs muscle

Eating protein in the morning and throughout the day helps prevent muscle loss and promotes lean body mass. If you work out first thing in the morning, eating a high-protein breakfast can help fuel you and support muscle growth and recovery, says Karnatz.

The best protein foods to eat for breakfast

1. Greek yogurt

Including a serving of Greek yogurt with breakfast is a surefire way to start your day with a generous dose of filling protein, suggests Gaw. A 7-ounce serving of plain Greek yogurt adds 20 grams of protein to your breakfast meal.

Greek yogurt also provides probiotics. Probiotics support healthy gut microbiota, potentially boosting immunity and reducing systemic inflammation and the risk of chronic disease, adds Gaw.

Check out our Nut & Berry parfait for inspiration. Or try these high-protein strawberry and peanut butter overnight oats.

2. Cottage

Curd has recently gained popularity on social networks, thanks to its high protein content. One cup of cottage cheese provides about 25 grams of protein. Cottage cheese is a great choice because it’s packed with other essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium, and vitamin B12, Kolesa says.

Curd is versatile and can be enjoyed savory or sweet. Add a nice flavor to scrambled eggs, spread on whole-grain toast, or enjoy as part of a fruit bowl, suggests Kolesa. We especially like our cottage cheese snack jar.

3. Eggs

Eggs are a complete protein source, providing all 9 essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own. In total, there are 6 grams of protein per egg. Eggs are versatile and a relatively cost-effective way to add more protein to your breakfast, says Nwora. She suggests our Roasted Tomato Shakshuka or an omelette for a high-protein, low-fat breakfast.

4. Tofu

Tofu may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider breakfast foods, however it is a versatile ingredient that can easily be incorporated into any recipe.

A half cup (about 126 grams) of tofu contains 22 grams of protein and under 2 grams of saturated fat. It’s a lean, high-protein option to start your day as an alternative to traditional eggs and dairy, says Whitaker. Plus, you get unsaturated fats to support your heart and plant-based probiotics for gut health, she adds. Studies show that plant compounds in tofu called isoflavones are responsible for its many health benefits.8

She suggests making a scrambled tofu breakfast burrito, this tofu and vegetable mix, or blending silken tofu into smoothies instead of milk or yogurt.

5. Salmon

Salmon is an excellent source of protein, with 17 grams per 3 ounces. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and other nutrients that support overall health. Omega-3 can improve heart health by reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol and making blood vessels more elastic.

For ideas to incorporate salmon into your breakfast, try this non-traditional smoked salmon and poached egg breakfast salad or these salmon bagel bites.

6. Ground turkey

Turkey is a lean protein source commonly used in lunch and dinner recipes, but it’s also a great breakfast option! A 4-ounce serving of 93% ground turkey has 20 grams of protein. It also provides essential nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc and selenium.

Ground turkey is a great substitute for bacon and sausage in omelets, scrambles and breakfast casseroles because it’s lower in saturated fat. Use leftovers from the night before for extra convenience.

7. Ready-to-drink protein shakes

Most nutritionists recommend a food-first approach to nutrition, but protein shakes are a convenient option for busy mornings. If you meet most of your protein needs from food, using a protein supplement for an added boost is fine.

Most ready-to-drink protein shakes have between 20 and 30 grams of protein. Nwora suggests using a protein shake as milk for cereal or as creamer in coffee. They are great for your morning commute. They can even be carried in your car, purse or backpack for breakfast in a pinch, she says.

After all

Protein is an important nutrient that should be part of every breakfast. Provides long-lasting energy, keeping you feeling full and satisfied for longer. People who regularly eat protein in the morning have better blood sugar control and improved heart health. Aim for a balanced meal that includes protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber, and consider including foods like eggs, salmon, turkey, and tofu in your breakfast.

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