Whether or not you believe it's the most important meal of the day, there's research to support the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast, especially when it includes protein.
11 Protein-Packed Breakfasts to Power You Through the Morning
A breakfast high in protein can help you manage your weight by maintaining muscle mass and promoting satiety (in other words, curbing the need for a 10 a.m. snack break), per the American Society for Nutrition. The trouble is, our breakfasts typically skew high in carbohydrates and low in protein, according to a June 2014 study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
To tip the scales in your favor, we're sharing 11 easy and healthy breakfast recipes that provide at least 20 grams of protein per serving.
1. Chia Crunch
You can eat a meatless and egg-free breakfast and still get plenty of the muscle-building macro by combining Greek yogurt with quinoa, a high-protein whole grain.
This recipe is also packed with belly-filling fiber, which is important because we don't get enough of the nutrient. On average, we're only eating about 16 grams per day, according to USDA data, while the recommended amount of fiber is about 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. This recipe on its own has 5 grams of fiber thanks in part to the chia seeds. Pair this parfait with a serving of berries and you'll be halfway to your fiber goal for the day.
2. Cheesy Eggwich
Think of this one as a healthier version of popular breakfast sandwiches that'll satisfy your craving and keep you feeling full for hours. Compared to typical fast-food breakfast sandwiches, this Cheesy Eggwich has almost 50 percent more protein and half the saturated fat.
Making simple ingredient swaps like choosing a whole-grain English muffin and cutting out the butter and full-fat cheese can help you get a hold of your health. A September 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that more than 40 percent of the total calories we eat each day come from low-quality carbohydrates and 12 percent come from saturated fat.
This leaves room for improvement: Get your morning dose of quality protein from a whole egg and cottage cheese with this Cheesy Eggwich.
3. Creamy Berry Quinoa Parfait
Store-bought or morning drive-thru parfait options provide protein by way of the yogurt — but they're also typically filled with added sugar, with their layers of granola, sweetened yogurt and in some cases, syrupy fruit.
While there's certainly a place for the sweet stuff in our diets, we're really overdoing it when it comes to added sugar: We eat about 270 calories from added sugar every single day, per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This is a problem because the American Heart Association recommends that men get no more than 150 calories from added sugar each day and women, no more than 100 calories.
Making healthy choices, like whipping up this berry-quinoa breakfast, is one way to reduce added sugar in your diet while still getting a hefty dose of protein — 25 grams to be exact.
4. Protein Eggsadilla
A breakfast quesadilla may sound indulgent but this doesn't have to be the case if you swap a few ingredients for healthier choices like a refined-white-flour tortilla for a whole-grain one.
This Protein Eggsadilla is just that: a delicious, Mexican-inspired meal that delivers on protein with 21 grams per serving. And getting your protein in the morning is crucial. Research published in June 2015 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that spreading out your dietary protein intake throughout the day may be just as important as the total amount you're eating within those 24 hours.
5. Almond Bran Crunch
Instead of enjoying a typical bowl of cereal with milk, try adding protein-packed Greek yogurt instead. By swapping in the yogurt for milk in this bowl of bran cereal, you're doubling the amount of protein from 11 grams to 22 grams of protein.
The pairing of protein and fiber (from bran cereal) is a winning combo when it comes to keeping you feeling full. Fiber helps to slow down digestion so you don't feel hungry immediately after eating a meal. This can help with managing your weight and preventing swings in your blood sugar, according to the Cleveland Clinic, while protein also aids in satiety.
6. Mushroom and Tomato Omelet
Omelets are not only a tasty way to get your protein in before noon, but they're also one of the easiest ways to add more veggies to your diet. This version incorporates mushrooms and tomatoes but you can add peppers, onions and spinach, too.
Eggs are typically praised for their protein content but they're also packed with other vital nutrients. One large egg is an excellent source (provides at least 20 percent of the Daily Value) of vitamin B12, biotin, iodine, selenium and choline, per the Egg Nutrition Center. Because of the added cottage cheese in this recipe, this breakfast clocks in at 36 grams of protein.
7. Cinnamon French Toast With Yogurt
French toast feels like a weekend brunch menu. But with this healthy and easy 10-minute recipe, you can enjoy your favorite sweet bread dish every morning — but maybe save the mimosas for the weekend.
The key here is using a slice of whole-grain bread in place of white bread. In doing so, you'll retain more of the nutrients — fiber, protein, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6 — that are typically lost when grains are refined, as explained by the Whole Grains Council. And by using the whole-grain bread to soak up an entire egg, you're adding extra protein to your breakfast (6 grams in each egg, to be exact), which pairs perfectly with a side of Greek yogurt.
8. Mediterranean Morning Scramble
This Mediterranean Morning Scramble is a prime example of a Mediterranean dish pairing spinach with eggs and a bit of ricotta cheese. Tip: Coat your pan with olive oil to add an extra dose of heart-healthy fats.
The Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthiest and for good reason. A significant body of research affirms the many health benefits ranging from reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic conditions as well as potentially preventing certain cancers and lowering the risk of certain mental illnesses like depression, according to a recent paper published in Nutrients in August 2019.
9. Walnut Yogurt Breakfast
This simple, three-ingredient recipe creates a basic template you can use in the mornings to build a balanced and nutrient-packed breakfast. Use Greek yogurt as your base and then top with a heart-healthy fat like nuts or seeds (in this case, walnuts) and some fruit.
The wheat germ in this recipe is a nutritional powerhouse, providing B vitamins, fiber, magnesium and vitamin E, per the USDA. Other combo options: Pistachios with goji berries or hemp hearts and blueberries. The pairing of these foods provides the perfect balance of protein and healthy carbohydrates and fat to ensure you're well-fueled for the day.
10. Savory Protein Oats
Typically topped with dried fruit or nuts, this oatmeal breakfast recipe adds a savory twist by including turkey bacon and Parmesan cheese instead. Oats, a healthy source of carbohydrates, also packs in 5 grams of protein in addition to 4 grams of fiber, which includes a specific type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan.
An August 2014 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition looked at the satiating "powers" of oatmeal in comparison to a bowl of oat-based cereal and found that despite providing the same amount of calories, those who ate the bowl of oatmeal experienced an increase in fullness, a reduced sense of hunger and actually ate less at lunch. Researchers believe the beta-glucan plays a unique role in reducing hunger.
11. Turkey and Cheese Scramble
Eggs, sliced turkey and cottage cheese — all three are impressive sources of protein and all three are what make up the entirety of this breakfast scramble. This dish tops out at 34 grams of protein so by having this for breakfast, you'll already be off to a great start with spreading your protein intake throughout the day versus just backloading at dinner, like most of us do, according to data published in June 2014 in the Journal of Nutrition.
Don't be shy with the veggies either — throw in some onions, mushrooms or tomatoes into the mix for added nutrients.