14 High-Protein Breakfast Ideas That Will Help You Lose Weight
A protein-packed breakfast can satisfy your appetite and help you eat healthier all day long. Here’s how to make your favorite morning meals more nutritious and more filling.
Your morning meal may not contain enough protein
Eating more protein at breakfast could help you stay fuller into the afternoon, too. Case in point: According to research published in the Journal of Nutrition, people who ate a high-protein breakfast consumed about 100 fewer calories at lunch than those who ate a calorically identical meal with less protein. It’s possible protein increases satiety by decreasing levels of ghrelin and increasing the peptide YY, a hormone that nudges your brain to realize, “Hey, I’m full.” It may also increase glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1), also released in response to food. When you don’t get enough protein, your health can suffer, so aim to get the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of the nutrient every day. For women over age 19, that’s 46 grams (g); for men, it’s 56 g. Here are a few easy breakfasts to help you hit your target.
Basic breakfast: Milk and cereal
High-protein idea: Some cereals are loaded with protein while others have very little. Some good options: Kashi GoLean Original, which has 12 g of protein and 13 g of disease-fighting fiber per serving; Bear Naked Fit Almond Crisp, which has 6 g of protein and 5 g of fiber; and Kellogg’s Special K Protein, which has 15 g of protein and 5 g of fiber per serving. For even more of a boost, sprinkle an ounce of dry-roasted sunflower seeds for 5 more g of protein as well as the anti-aging vitamin E.
Basic breakfast: Egg and cheese on a roll
High-protein idea: Choose a breakfast burrito with beans, or try this easy recipe for about 25 g of protein in your morning meal from the eggs and beans: Fill a corn tortilla with two scrambled eggs, 1/4 cup diced sautéed onions, and 1/4 cup of black beans. Then top with a tablespoon of pico de gallo (or more to taste). Here’s the latest information on egg nutrition you might find handy.
Basic breakfast: Butter or jelly on toast
High-protein idea: Swap butter for 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or almond butter (or one of these nut alternatives, if you’re allergic), which adds about 7 g of protein to your meal. Since processed nut butters can be sneaky sources of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients, look for a super-short ingredient list (like the nut, and maybe some salt).
Basic breakfast: Yogurt
High-protein idea: Trade a 6-oz nonfat yogurt for a Greek yogurt version to get in about 6 more g of protein per serving (for a total of 14 g). Make your breakfast even healthier by adding fiber-rich berries to naturally sweeten your meal, and sprinkle on seeds, nuts, or high-protein, high-fiber cereal to increase the amount of protein even more.
Basic breakfast: Oatmeal made with water
High-protein idea: Swap water for skim milk (8 g of protein per cup) and sprinkle on some chopped nuts to help you feel full until lunch. Try this apple walnut oatmeal recipe from US News and World Report: Cook 3/4 cups of dry oatmeal with 1 1/4 cup of skim milk. Add 1 chopped apple and 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey. Total: 24 g of protein. Or toss one of these other healthy oatmeal toppers you might not have tried.
Basic breakfast: Homemade muffin
High-protein idea: Try baking these High-Protein Banana Oat Muffins from Men’s Journal, which contain 8 g of protein per muffin. (Did we mention they are also less than 100 calories and have only 1 g of fat?) It’s a much healthier alternative to bakery muffins, which can have anywhere from 300 to 500 calories per serving and are usually high in fat, sugar, and sodium. To further amp up the protein of your homemade goods, spread a split muffin with a tablespoon of peanut butter (for 4 more g of protein) and enjoy it with a cup of fat-free milk (for another 8 g).
Basic breakfast: Banana on the run
High-protein idea: Nothing beats a banana for grab-and-go portability, but if you pair it with a protein-rich dairy source, like a single-serving cup of cottage cheese, you could add more than 20 g of protein to your morning meal. Cottage cheese is also a good way to sneak in some calcium and vitamin A.
Basic breakfast: Scrambled eggs
High-protein idea: Simplify your morning eggs by swapping out your usual scrambled fare for baked mini egg muffins. Women’s Health recommends mixing whole eggs, egg whites, and sautéed vegetables together before putting them in mini muffin tins. Or put an egg-citing twist on your dish with these ideas. Depending on how many eggs you use, these muffins could pack a serious protein punch.
Basic breakfast: Toasted bagel
High-protein idea: Turn your morning bagel into a high-protein breakfast by adding some smoked salmon. Trade your bagel for whole wheat bread, and you’ll be fuller even longer thanks to the added fiber. The salmon not only adds about 5 g of protein per ounce, but it also has omega-3 fats that can benefit everything from your brain to your skin, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Basic breakfast: Pancakes
High-protein idea: Pancakes might not seem like an opportunity for a high-protein breakfast, but a few key ingredient swaps make all the difference. Try making this SELF recipe that combines Greek yogurt (a known muscle-builder, just like these 9 other foods), eggs, whole wheat flour, and blueberries for about 23 g of protein per serving.
Basic breakfast: French toast
High-protein idea: Egg whites and peanut butter are the key ingredients in this high-protein breakfast recipe from SELF. Fresh raspberries, unsweetened cocoa powder, and vanilla keep the toast sweet without compromising on protein—one serving has about 21 g of protein.
Basic breakfast: Waffles
High-protein idea: Just like French toast, a few ingredient swaps are the key to making high-protein breakfast waffles. This recipe from Damn Delicious only requires eggs, cottage cheese, oats, vanilla, and salt. One serving has about 20 g of protein and only 1 g of sugar.
Basic breakfast: Pudding
High-protein idea: Chia seeds are one of the best foods to eat in the morning thanks to their high-fiber and antioxidant count, according to the American Society for Nutrition. Plus, one serving of chia seeds offers up about 4 g of protein. This recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie only requires three ingredients: milk, chia seeds, and vanilla extract. One serving has just over 5 g of protein. Or try out one of these delicious chia seed pudding recipes you’re bound to love. Not a pudding person? Whip up a yummy chia jam.
Basic breakfast: Granola bar
High-protein idea: Skip the pre-packaged granola bars that are sometimes sneaky sources of sugar and try making these no-bake high-protein blueberry bars from Inspired Edibles instead. Oats, almonds, flaxseed, and almond butter are just a few of the ingredients that contribute to the 8 g of protein found in each bar.
- Journal of Nutrition: "A Randomized, Controlled, Crossover Trial to Assess the Acute Appetitive and Metabolic Effects of Sausage and Egg-Based Convenience Breakfast Meals in Overweight Premenopausal Women."
- National Academies of Science: "Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Estimated Average Requirements."
- United States Department of Agriculture: "USDA Food Compositions Database."
- National Institutes of Health: "Omega-3 Fatty Acids."
- American Society for Nutrition: The Real Scoop on Chia Seeds."