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Jumpstart your results with the right breakfast. Eat breakfast. Eat protein. If you’re trying to lose weight—or just eat and live a bit healthier—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 feel less hungry later in the day,” explains Amy Goodson, R.D., 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 you’ll be able 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. And, in one 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. That’s why we asked nutrition experts to get creative and share their favorite high-protein breakfast ideas. Whether you like sweet or savory, exotic or comforting, vegan or paleo, on-the-go or sitting down, there is something everyone will love on this list.
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 flax meal, chia seeds, soy or almond milk, or protein powder, says Kimberly M. Neva, M.S., R.D., a dietitian and bariatric specialist at Loyola University Medical Center. That’s right, you can stir flavored or unflavored protein powder right into your oatmeal. Top with blueberries and almonds for extra fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins.
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 pack 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.”
If eggs for breakfast sounds boring, try these individual frittatas, Neva says. Mix whole eggs and extra egg whites together with sautéed vegetables. For even more protein, add some turkey sausage or cheese. 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). 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.
Looking for an exotic flavor? Try this modified version of a popular Turkish dish, courtesy of Marina Rösser, a nutritionist and recipe author. Sauté red onion, garlic, frozen spinach, and sliced chili peppers in a little olive oil. Once the veggies are soft, add an egg or two 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.
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 cottage cheese, mixing in some beans, and topping with tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper.
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 cooked oats, natural peanut butter, dark cacao, and sweet banana. Top with yogurt or your choice of milk.
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. And remember a protein shake doesn’t always have to be sweet, Rösser adds. Her favorite concoction: Quark, cucumber, mint, a splash of milk, and a pinch of salt.
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 sliced onions, red bell peppers, tomatoes, and 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.
Take your basic scrambled eggs to the next level by adding pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, cherry tomatoes, and arugula. This combo adds protein, fiber, flavor, and a satisfying crunch to an otherwise ordinary dish, Rösser says.
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 buying smoked salmon or trout and eating it on whole-grain toast. Optional toppings include cottage cheese, grated horseradish, dijon mustard, chopped parsley, chopped dill, chopped chives, lemons, or salt and pepper.
Start your morning off right with a simple parfait made of yogurt, berries and muesli, suggests Sonja Kukuljian, Ph.D., R.D., group general manager 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.
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 a drizzle of olive oil, and you’ve got a healthy, filling meal.
Protein has an important place in the vegan diet, and you can still get plenty of it without ever touching an animal product, says Rebecca Cafiero, a certified holistic health and integrative nutritionist and a TEDx Speaker. Her favorite plant-based breakfast is muffins made by cooking gluten-free oats in pea protein milk and adding a dash of coconut oil, almond butter, flaxseed, cinnamon, and blueberries. Mix to muffin-batter consistency. You can eat it right then or scoop into muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes for a portable breakfast. (Hit the reset button—and burn fat like crazy with The 2 Week Diet: Melt Away 6 Pounds Unwanted Stubborn Body Fat in Just 14 Days)
Protein smoothies are a tried-and-true healthy breakfast, but vegans may feel left out of the smoothie love as they don’t do whey or egg proteins. No problem, Cafiero says, there are plenty of vegan-friendly protein powders. She likes to blend brown rice and pea protein powder with coconut oil, flaxseed, pea protein milk, spinach, blueberries, and a small amount of stevia and cinnamon. This provides a healthy serving of protein along with vital fats, vitamins, fiber, and micronutrients.
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, M.S., a board-certified nutritionist. Simply mix eggs with any type of vegetables you like—chopped sweet potato, asparagus, kale, and red onion are her favorites—add seasonings like garlic, sea salt, parsley, and cilantro. Bake in the oven until you can insert a knife in them and it comes out clean. These are 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.
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 it with plant milk, berries, chia seeds, and 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.
Avocado toast is the trendiest breakfast food right now, and with good reason. It provides a healthy dose of fats and fiber. But it can be improved, says Alana Kessler, M.S., a certified dietitian nutritionist. Give yours a nutritional boost by adding an egg or two and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. This adds filling protein and B vitamins.
Now you can still have your favorite breakfast dish and get your protein too with this recipe, courtesy of Charlie Seltzer, M.D., a doctor specializing in weight loss. Simply blend 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 [FOR HOW LONG?]. These pancakes may help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and contain lots of protein for the number of calories. Plus, he promises that the finished product doesn’t taste like eggs or cottage cheese!
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 a toasted high-fiber English muffin. Add an egg, a slice of cheese, and two slices of Canadian bacon or ham. Feel free to wrap it in wax paper if you’re missing that fast-food feeling.
Leafy green vegetables are one of the best foods you can eat for your health, but most of us don’t fancy them plain. So try them as a nest for eggs, as recommended by Brooke Alpert, R.D., 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.
How are we this far down the list and have not even mentioned the classic omelette yet? Consider it fixed. 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 mushrooms, onions, and cheese, topped with basil and tomatoes,” says Elin Östman, Ph.D., 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.”
Surprise: Scrambles don’t have to be eggs. You can still get the flavor and protein by subbing tofu in for eggs, says Shahzadi Devje, R.D., a certified diabetes educator. 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.
Want something simple, protein-packed, and filling that doesn’t require any prep or cooking? Devje’s favorite super-easy breakfast is rye crackers spread with almond butter and sprinkled with nuts and dried fruits. 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.
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 LA-based dietitian, 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.
If even cooking oatmeal is beyond your abilities in the mornings (and you’ll get no judgement from us!), overnight oats are the perfect solution. Try this nutrient-rich, protein-packed variety, courtesy of Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. Combine oats, unsweetened almond milk, plain Greek yogurt, chia seeds, chocolate protein powder, and 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.
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 a chopped apple and two slices of cubed whole-grain bread. Pour in a mug, and microwave for one minute. Top with syrup and cinnamon.
Smoked salmon on a paleo wrap with roasted vegetables, greens, and avocado is the go-to breakfast for Elizabeth Trattner, chef and integrative medicine specialist. “This yummy wrap is high in healthy fats and fiber, which keep 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 wrap, trade the salmon for chicken or eggs, and use any type of veggies you like.
Make a big batch over the weekend: Bring water to rolling boil on stove, place eggs in pan, cover, and remove from heat. Let it sit for 12 minutes. If you have a few more minutes, Goodson suggests pairing your hard-boiled eggs with cooked quinoa, which is also high in protein, and berries.
Tacos are an anytime food, as shown by this recipe for breakfast tacos, courtesy of Jerlyn Jones, M.S., R.D.N. Take a whole-grain wrap or taco shell, add black beans, scrambled eggs, lettuce, salsa, and avocado slices. The beans and eggs provide protein, while the avocado provides healthy fats and the veggies bring the vitamins. Plus, it’s perfectly portable.
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 whole-grain bread, spread it with a nut butter of your choice, and sprinkle with chia seeds. This combo provides protein along with a hefty dose of fiber and fats.
Good news for coffee lovers: Upping your protein at breakfast can be as simple as adding a scoop or two of protein powder to your large coffee. This genius trick comes from Adrienne Daly, a nutrition coach based in Houston,. Her favorite is to get a grande sized Cold Brew from Starbucks and a serving of chocolate protein powder to make it a mocha.
Just because it’s a dinner food doesn’t mean you can’t eat it for breakfast. In fact, last night’s leftovers can make some of the most nutritious breakfasts, Daly says. Meat and vegetables, dinnertime staples, can easily be reheated and enjoyed. Her go-to is ground turkey topped with a little salsa for extra flavor.
Scrambled eggs turn into a whole new meal by adjusting the spices and other add-ins. Think beyond shredded cheese and include superfood spices like turmeric, cayenne, and cumin, says Josh Axe, certified nutritionist, author of Eat Dirt, and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition. It’s a simple way to add more nutrition to your protein. “If you’ve never incorporated benefit-rich turmeric into your morning meals, prepare for a life-changing experience,” he says. “This powerful herb has shown to help regulate cholesterol and manage blood sugar.”
Eggs, canned salmon, and feta are the only ingredients in the Mediterranean breakfast muffins that Rima Kleiner, M.S., R.D., author of Dish on Fish, makes. They may be simple—simply combine 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.(Hit the reset button—and burn fat like crazy with The 2 Week Diet: Melt Away 6 Pounds Unwanted Stubborn Body Fat in Just 14 Days)
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