While the time you spend in the gym plays a crucial role in muscle building, the fuel you put in your body is just as important.
If you're looking to increase strength and stay lean, you should eat 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and aim to get about 25 grams of protein per meal, according to an April 2015 review published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
But don't neglect your carbs, either, as they're crucial for replenishing your muscles. When you eat carbohydrates, they're partially converted to glycogen, which your muscles use for energy, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
So if you're looking to start your day on a strong note, try these recipes that combine quality sources of protein and carbs to get you right on track for muscle growth. Each high-protein breakfast is tailored for six popular diets, so everyone can have their pick!
1. Best for a Vegan Diet
Savory Protein Breakfast Bowl
If you're struggling to find plant-based protein recipes, this breakfast bowl will set you straight. Not only will this dish help you build a calorie surplus but this recipe packs 26 grams of protein and 36 grams of high-quality carbs — perfect for your hypertrophy goals.
You may be surprised to learn that edamame (immature soybeans) are actually packed with protein, with about 19 grams of protein per cup. These little green beans are not only a great muscle-building food but they're also high in soy isoflavones, a plant chemical that helps support bone health, according to a December 2011 study published in Maturitas.
2. Best for the Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean Breakfast Scramble
Although this recipe is simple, it will provide just the protein you need to strengthen those muscles — 14 grams per serving, to be exact. This Mediterranean-diet-friendly dish also calls for a half cup of spinach, helping you meet your micronutrient requirements for the day.
Eggs — with their yolks — are great for building and repairing muscle tissue post-exercise, according to a December 2017 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This dish combines a whole egg and egg whites, making this scramble a little lower in fat than the average. Egg whites are very low in calories and high in protein, making them a solid hunger-fighting breakfast food.
3. Best for the Keto Diet
Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata With Garlic Aioli
If you're on the keto diet and sick of eating hard-boiled eggs every morning, this frittata is a great way to add some variety to your breakfast menu while keeping your first meal high in protein and healthy fats and low in carbs. Serve this dish with some arugula to add some fiber and leafy green goodness to your meal.
Packed with healthy fats, this recipe calls for avocado oil, which is one of the healthiest oils you can use. Avocado oil consists of more than 80 percent monounsaturated fat, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Replacing saturated fats, like butter, with plant-based oils is great for your heart health.
4. Best for a Vegetarian Diet
Teff Breakfast Bowl
This bowl packs 22 grams of protein and is an excellent option if you prefer to start your breakfast on a sweet note. Especially if you're looking for a good pre-workout dish, this recipe is filled with high-quality carbohydrates, which will power you through any workout session.
The main component of this recipe, teff is a northeast African grain that's naturally gluten-free and full of protein and fiber, according to the Whole Grains Council. Teff is also a source of iron, which your body uses to transport oxygen across the body — deeming it a great grain to support your exercise.
5. Best for the Paleo Diet
Sunny-Side-Up Breakfast Sausage
Sunny-side-up eggs are a quintessential breakfast food. And paired with turkey, this dish makes for a low-fat, high-protein meal that's perfect for the paleo diet, which prohibits processed grains.
Not only is ground turkey a great protein source but it's also high in vitamin B6, providing about 20 percent of your daily recommended value with each 3-ounce serving, according to the National Institutes of Health. Vitamin B6 plays a key role in protein metabolism in the body, which is especially important if muscle gain is your goal. Other foods including chickpeas, tuna and salmon are also great sources of vitamin B6.
6. Best for a Gluten-Free Diet
Gluten-Free Cinnamon and Yogurt French Toast
You may be surprised to see french toast as a gluten-free breakfast but this dish calls for slices of gluten-free bread with an egg batter. French toast is expectedly high in carbs, a crucial macro for muscle building, and the added Greek yogurt provides protein.
Greek yogurt packs in probiotics, which can help increase the microbiota diversity in your gut, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "4 Keys to Strength Building and Muscle Mass"
- USDA: "Edamame, Frozen, Prepared"
- Mauritas: "Soy Isoflavones for Osteoporosis: An Evidence-Based Approach"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Consumption of Whole Eggs Promotes Greater Stimulation of Postexercise Muscle Protein Synthesis than Consumption of Isonitrogenous Amounts of Egg Whites in Young Men"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Choosing Oils for Cooking: A Host of Heart-Healthy Options"
- Whole Grains Council: "Teff and Millet — November Grains of the Month"
- National Institutes of Health: "Vitamin B6"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Yogurt"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance"