How to Get Protein in your Breakfast
LEVEL – Beginner
Reading time – 3-5 minutes
Chances are by now you’ll have heard that protein is a very important part of nutrition.
Some of the many benefits of protein are:
- It has a high satiety effect, so you feel fuller for longer
- It helps to repair muscle after exercise
- It is a vital building block for your bones, muscle, cartilage, skin and blood
- It’s essential to the repair and regeneration of all the cells in the body
- It has a high thermogenic effect, meaning that around 25% of the calories in protein are burned off just in its digestion (the numbers are much less for carbohydrates and fat)
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of consuming protein for health, weight loss and muscle-building goals.
And it’s not just for the guys – ladies if you want look athletic and toned rather than just skinny, you’ll need to consume enough protein too.
A simple way to ensure you’re getting enough is aim for a serving in each meal throughout the day.
A visual serving of protein would be 1 palm size portion of meat or fish for women, and a 1.5-2 palm-sized portion for men.
If you’re looking from a numbers perspective, you’re aiming for around 20g if you’re a woman, and 30-40g if you’re a man.
Most people do fine with this for lunch and dinner – various meat and fish options are deemed acceptable at this later stage in the day.
But what about breakfast?
This is where a lot of people get stuck, so here’s a few ideas of the best protein breakfast foods and the different ways you can enjoy them.
Eggs are always a winner for breakfast.
1 medium sized egg will give you around 6-7g of protein, so 2-3 eggs are a good amount.
These could be:
- Poached, on 1-2 pieces of wholemeal toast (Hi Lo protein bread in sainsburys is a great option – higher in protein and lower in carbs)
- In an omelette, with any of the following – smoked salmon, ham, tuna, low fat cheese, spinach, mushrooms, peppers and other veg
- Scrambled, with grilled bacon, wholemeal/protein toast, smoked salmon, sundried tomatoes, spinach, fresh or grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, or other veggies
- Fried, with ham, bacon, wholemeal toast or veggies
- Boiled, soft so you can make soldiers with your toast, or hard and with whatever else you fancy.
- In a homemade egg muffin – there’s a few ways of making these but one option is: whisk up 2 eggs, handful of spinach, sprinkle of feta, sprinkle of fried onion or sundried tomatoes, pour into a ramekin lined with a slice of ham and bake for 15 minutes – great option for making in advance
- In a frittata, with any of a combination of the following – smoked salmon, ham, salmon, chicken, low fat cheese, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes, onions, sweet potato, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes – another great option to make the day before so you can grab and go.
- As part of a pancake – various recipes you can try for this. One easy and healthy one – simply blend 1 banana, 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of almond butter, then pour into a frying pan. Top with yogurt and berries for extra nutrition.
GREEK / PROTEIN YOGURT
There are now a selection of yogurts in the supermarkets that contain around 17-20g of protein per portion. Arla protein yogurts, Liberte plain low fat greek yogurt, and Total 0% fat yogurts are all great options.
These could be enjoyed:
- On its own as an accompaniment to a small bowl of cereal or a piece of toast with nut butter (for example)
- As part of overnight oats – half a standard sized mug of oats (or 50g), three quarters of a mug of milk or almond milk, and 1 pot of total yogurt work well. For flavour try adding 50-100g of frozen mixed berries as well. Leave it all in the fridge overnight for an oaty, fruity, high-protein start to the day.
- With fruit (berries are always a good choice but other fruits are fine too). Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed for some healthy fats too.
- In a smoothie – will add a thicker consistency and a source of protein to any fruit or veg smoothies you create
Whey protein is not essential to reaching any health and fitness goals, but it can be a really easy and convenient way of achieving your daily protein targets.
If you struggle to get protein into each meal and particularly at breakfast, having a bag of whey in your cupboard could be a useful idea.
1 scoop generally gives you around 20-25g of protein, so your needs are pretty much met right there.
Depending on your taste buds, you can also get some interesting and pretty tasty flavours to enhance your meal. Chocolate brownie and sticky toffee pudding tend to go well for those with a sweet tooth! For those less keen on sweet flavours, vanilla or just plain unflavoured work well.
Some ideas on how you can get whey into your breakfast:
- Protein pancakes – a delicious option that feels like a treat but can actually be ok nutrition and calorie-wise. Various recipes are available; one simple easy one is to blend 1 banana, 1 egg and 1 scoop of your protein powder of choice. Yogurt and fresh berries again make a healthy topping.
- With porridge – cook your oats with water or milk as normal and then add a scoop of whey and mix in well. You may need to add more liquid as the whey will thicken the oats up.
- As a shake – protein shakers help to make sure you don’t get any clumps of powder stuck together. 1 scoop in milk or water makes a great accompaniment to a light low-protein breakfast
- Mixed with yogurt – can make plain yogurt taste delicious. Berries or other fruit would go well in there too.
- Overnight oats – if you’re short on time in the mornings, oats prepared the night before can be a great option to eat before work or when you get to your desk. A good recipe is – half a standard size mug full of oats (or just weigh out 50g), half a mug of low fat yogurt, and half a mug of milk or almond milk. Mix together and leave in the fridge overnight. Add a scoop of protein powder in the morning and you’re good to go.
Hopefully these ideas have given you some inspiration on how you can start your day with a delicious protein-based breakfast.
Of course you can always eat any kind of meat or fish too with some veggies, just like you would do at lunch or dinner.
What choices do you enjoy when it come to a high protein breakfast?
Let me know in the comments below!