High-Protein Breakfast Menus

Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast supplies fuel for your morning’s activities and helps prevent the blood insulin response that can lead to fat storage and weight gain. Although many popular breakfast choices are high in saturated fat, a high-protein diet doesn’t have to be full of unhealthy ingredients.

Ham and Egg Souffle

Make a fluffy egg souffle without oil by putting your eggs in a coffee cup and microwaving for 30 to 45 seconds. Use eggs whites or an egg substitute and mix them with a nonfat butter substitute or skim milk. Add diced, lean ham to the souffle. Balance your protein with some carbs by adding some diced veggies to your souffle and serving with a piece of whole-grain toast.

Nutty Cereals

Look for cereals high in protein, like Special K Protein Plus, Kashi’s Go Lean, Grape Nuts or cereals made by Barbara’s Bakery, Nature’s Path or Bear Naked. Read the nutrition label and look for 5 grams or more of protein. Kashi’s Go Lean original packs a whopping 13 grams of protein per serving. Adding milk boost your protein intake.

Omelets

Omelets are an easy, high-protein, one-pan dish you can make healthier with a few substitutions. A healthy, high-protein breakfast menu featuring an omelet might include an egg white omelet with veggie sausage and low-fat cheese. Use skim milk or a low-fat butter substitute, and cook the omelet in a monounsaturated cooking oil, such as olive oil. Add some coarsely ground nuts for more flavor, crunch, healthy fats and protein.

Dairy Options

Pack more protein into your breakfast by choosing some yogurt. Add some crushed nuts to your yogurt for some crunch and even more protein. Slice some low-fat cheese and place it on apple slices. Cottage cheese often tastes sweet and creamy the first couple of spoonfuls, but then turns to chalk in your mouth if you don’t eat anything with it. Spoon on some fruit, crushed nuts or seeds for more texture and flavor. If you’ve just worked out, low-fat chocolate milk is an excellent post-workout recovery drink because of the protein, amino acids and other nutrients it provides.

Mexican Eggs

Serve a Mexican breakfast by pairing scrambled eggs whites or an egg substitute with salsa, low-fat sour cream, mashed avocados and black beans. Serve with a cup of low-fat yogurt or a few spoonfuls of cottage cheese for more protein. Black beans are a rich source of protein and iron. If you’d like an accompaniment, poach a small amount of salmon and sprinkle with lime juice and cilantro. Wrap these ingredients in a tortilla to make portable burritos.

Quinoa

Quinoa (KEEN-wa) is a seed that’s not a grass, making it gluten-free and easier to digest that grains. It’s a complete protein and good source of calcium, making it a healthy choice for women looking to address osteoporosis, vegans and those who are lactose-intolerant. Healthy food editor Deena Shanker suggests 24 ways to add quinoa to your breakfast.

Plan your Day

Hopefully, you haven’t been sucked into the high-protein, low-carb diet myth which has been shown over and over again not to promote weight loss or healthy nutrition and causes other health problems if followed religiously. If you’re looking to have a high-protein breakfast for a specific reason (e.g., post-strength workout recovery), that’s fine. Just make sure you balance the rest of your day’s eating by getting the right amount of complex carbs and healthy fats.

High-Protein Meals

Health organizations such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Harvard School of Public Health and Mayo Clinic recommend that you get most of your daily calories from complex carbohydrates and protein sources such as nuts, beans, legumes and seeds. Foods considered high-protein by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration contain more than 20 percent of your recommended daily calories for protein in one serving. It will be up to you to determine what you consider a high-protein breakfast, based on your diet and nutrition goals.

Reducing Fat & Cholesterol

Bad news for chickens — the cholesterol found in eggs isn’t the kind that causes heart disease

, so omelets, scrambles and other egg dishes are back on the menu for healthy eating. A typical high-protein menu might include egg dishes made with cooking oils, cheeses and meats. Bacon and sausage are high in protein but also high in saturated fat. If you’re keeping an eye on your saturated fat intake throughout the week, indulging in some fatty favorites once in a while isn’t a big deal. To reduce (but not necessarily eliminate) saturated fat, check your grocery store for substitutes, such as veggie sausage patties or turkey bacon.

Additional Resources

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label

Harvard School of Public Health: Food Pyramids: What Should You Really Eat?

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Sample Menus for a 2000 Calorie Food Pattern

McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: the Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat

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