Healthy Protein Breakfast Ideas To Power You Through The Day
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, there’s no question about it. But some breakfasts are better than others.
Many people feel right at home eating a sugary breakfast, but that will leave you unfulfilled and unfueled. Instead, start your day off right with a protein-filled breakfast. Protein will keep you energized and in fighting form for the rest of the day.
Breakfast is one of the hardest meals to modify. That’s why we’re going to set you up with protein-packed recipes that will make it easy to eat right, first thing in the morning.
Why You Need Protein for Breakfast
Even if you’ve had a long acting protein supplement - like casein - before you went to bed, your body is protein-depleted when you wake up. You’ve just gone about 8 hours without a protein source and your body is prone to become catabolic. That means that it will start looking for more protein to burn as energy by metabolising the stores in your muscle mass.
Protein will also keep you feeling fuller, longer. There is a direct correlation between not eating enough protein for breakfast and overeating carbs at night. Your body responds to that first hit of protein with an increase in alertness, longer satiety, and the amino acids that your body needs to continue to build lean muscle mass.
Without the protein, your body may crave the quick energy of carbohydrates - often in excess - which can add to weight gain. If you want to read more about how protein works in your body, check out our article on Protein 101.
Amino Acids are the building blocks of your protein and muscle tissue. Of the 20 amino acids, our body can produce 11, which is why they are considered non essential.
The other 9 cannot be created by your body which means they must be consumed through your diet - via food or supplements - hence the name essential amino acids.
A complete protein contains all 20 amino acids and you can be sure you’re covering all the essential aminos your body needs to repair and rebuild muscles.
Complete Protein Sources
Lean Red Meats
An incomplete protein contains some or several aminos acids, just not all 20. By eating a variety
of these incomplete proteins, you can cover most or all of the amino acids to make complete proteins.
- Nuts and Seeds
- Whole Grains
To get you started off on the right foot, here are some protein-rich breakfasts that will leave you full of energy and packing on muscle in no time.
Homemade Baked Beans
Baked beans for breakfast is a tradition. However, canned beans are loaded with salt and sugar.
Homemade baked beans are loaded with protein - at 14g per serving - and the taste is well worth the effort! Try out a simple recipe like this one, and store the extra portions for later in the week. They last 3-5 days in the fridge or up to 8 months frozen.
For an extra protein boost - eat your baked beans on whole grain toast.
Whether you add protein powder to your pancake mix at home, or you grab yourself an easy-mix, protein pancakes are one the easiest breakfasts to make. By adding the supplemental protein, you can ensure you’re covering all the essential amino acids.
To make your own protein pancakes, simply add a scoop of protein powder to your pancake mixture. You may need to a add a splash of extra water.
Peanut Butter Toast
The classic peanut butter on toast is always a simple and effective source of protein. To get the most nutritional bang for your buck, choose a dense bread like rye or sprouted grain and natural peanut butter. Mix it up with different nut butters, like almond or cashew.
If this wholesome breakfast still doesn't fill you up, add apple or banana slices to your toast for extra fibre and micronutrients.
Hummus Avocado Breakfast Wrap
For how delicious these wraps are, they’re almost too easy . Simply mash avocado and hummus together - or if you like a smoother consistency, blend in a food processor. Spread the mixture on a whole wheat tortilla wrap.
Add some lettuce, diced tomato, onion or any other veggies of choice, for a hearty breakfast packed with protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
Oatmeal with Fruit
Oatmeal and fruit will not contain the same amount of protein as other foods but they will provide a great source of complex carbohydrates and, more importantly, high sources of fibre to start your day off right.
Add a scoop of protein powder into cooked oats (this will prevent clumping) to boost the protein levels in this filling breakfast.
Foods to Re-evaluate
Now that we know what makes up a great breakfast, let’s take a look at what we should be dodging in the grocery store. There are some foods most of us indulge in, but deep down we know we shouldn't be eating.
Here are some of the most common breakfast foods that you should avoid, and what you can do to recreate the same meals using healthier options.
Eggs with Bacon
When you imagine breakfast, what do you picture? Bacon and eggs may be the most familiar breakfast there is.
Even though bacon and eggs contain a lot of protein, they are both high in saturated fat and cholesterol. If you want to manage your weight and maintain a healthy heart, bacon and eggs is not the best route to your morning protein source.
Quick Fix: Try egg whites and turkey bacon. You can use 3-4 parts egg whites to 1 whole egg. Hot sauce and Salsas are great low calorie flavor boosters.
Cereal with Milk
Who doesn't love cereal? It’s a breakfast staple and with good reason. Whole grain cereals, like Cheerios, are a great source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
But the fact is, cereals like Coco Pops and Cookie Crisps are among the most popular in the UK. Cheerios is the only whole grain, low sugar cereal to make it into the top 5. Many cereals contain a tonne of added sugars and have little to zero nutritional value.
When pairing cereal with milk (as one does), it’s important to note all milk contains lactose - a simple sugar - and that has the same effect as glucose or sucralose.
Quick Fix: choose a whole grain or bran cereal and avoid cereals that have sugar listed as the first or second ingredient. Switch to skim milk, soy milk or almond milks - they're not as high in protein, but they are lower in fat and many options have low or no sugar.
Understanding why you need protein to start your day is the first step to making positive changes in your diet. It keeps your body from catabolising your muscles, helps you feel fuller, longer, and gives you the energy to push forward all day.
A balanced diet is the only way to cover all of the essential amino acids you need to repair and build lean muscles. Choose sources of complete proteins like meat, eggs, milk and soybeans. Enjoy an array of incomplete proteins like vegetables, whole grains and nuts to build complete proteins. Add protein powder to your pancakes and oatmeal for a boost.
Avoid common breakfast foods that are high in sugar, saturated fats and cholesterol, like canned beans, bacon and eggs and sugary cereals. Instead, with a few adjustments you can recreate your favorite meals using healthy protein-rich ingredients.