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.
BLUEBERRY-ALMOND BAKED 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 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.
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.”
MINI EGG FRITTATAS
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.
TURKISH FRIED EGG
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.
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 cottage cheese, mixing in some beans, and topping with tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper.
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 cooked oats, natural peanut butter, dark cacao, and sweet banana. Top with yogurt or your choice of milk.
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. 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.
CRUNCHY SCRAMBLED EGGS
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.
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 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.
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 a drizzle of olive oil, and you’ve got a healthy, filling meal.
VEGAN PROTEIN MUFFINS
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.
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.
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, 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.
AMPED-UP AVOCADO TOAST
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