Sufficient protein is a “big rock,” one of those pieces of the puzzle that can help us make meaningful improvements to the healthfulness of our diets and towards improving our physiques, if that’s a goal. This recent video by Jeff Nippard talks about how much protein might be best if we’re trying to build or maintain muscle mass but doesn’t address the how of reaching those targets.
What we eat is not just about macros; we eat food, and food is defined as much by our own personal psychologies and cultures as it is by its component parts. As such, I want to acknowledge that what I eat is defined by my own psychology and culture, and my choices are limited by my own experiences and perspective. These are some ways to get protein at breakfast and certainly not the only ones. For example, when I lived in Madagascar, we regularly ate fish at breakfast, a practice that I grew accustomed to, but never adopted for myself when I got back to the US.
I tend to think of protein sources as fitting into two general categories: main sources of protein and supplemental sources of protein. For the main sources of protein, these are the high protein foods that fill in the bulk of my protein needs, like meats, whole eggs and egg whites, and lower fat dairy products like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Supplemental sources of protein round out the meal and give my protein totals a boost, and these include for me, soy milk, higher protein grains like buckwheat, nuts and seeds, and cheeses, which I use sparingly. Protein powder for me, is an occasional food, used when I’m traveling and other situations where it’s hard to get sufficient protein consistently for a time. I don’t mind them, but I don’t find them as filling and satiating, and so I’d rather eat something that will stick with me and help me from wanting to endlessly nosh afterwards.
Eggs and egg whites: If you like eggs at breakfast, like I do, then there’s a lot of great ideas here for building them into your morning routine. During the school year, I do a Sunday morning food prep habit, which always includes an egg bake. In the summers and weekends, I like to cook my eggs fresh. Either way, I use a mix of whole eggs and egg whites so that I have more control over the total fat while keeping the total protein on the higher end of things.
If you need step-by-step instructions for making eggs and veggies, I provide that here.
Savory egg bakes, like this one with spinach, tomatoes and feta, are great for getting protein and veggies at breakfast.
Variation: Broccoli Cheddar Egg Bake,
If you prefer sweeter foods at breakfast, or just want to mix it up, this citrus custard provides eggs with a not-t00-sweet twist.
And this pumpkin spice egg bake is especially fabulous in the fall and winter months.
Here are some other higher-protein options that would make a great breakfast.
Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars get a boost from protein powder and are an easy way to get some protein on the go.
As a fun weekend offering, this Creamy Strawberry Cottage Cheese “Pudding” would supplement the protein in Buckwheat Oat Pancakes well.
This Oat Bran and Wheat Porridge uses eggs to boost the protein content and create a satisfying and easy-to-digest option that I especially appreciate after a hard morning workout or run.
And the protein content of any breakfast could be supplemented with this Cinnamon Yogurt Dip for Fruit.
I find that making small changes, using a different vegetable or cheese in an egg bake for example, is enough for me, finding that balance between novelty and consistency. I hope that I’ve given you some ideas for how you can increase protein in your breakfasts. Of course, there’s always protein supplements and smoothies; they aren’t options I go for, as I would struggle to be hungry too soon afterwards, but I know lots of people love them.
Have other favorite recipes to boost your protein at breakfast? I’d love to hear about them!