Have you ever noticed a time when you ate a big bowl of cereal or a donut for breakfast and an hour later you were starving again?
You think to yourself “I don’t understand, I JUST ate!” but you find yourself back in the pantry searching for a snack. Most typically the reason you are so hungry shortly after eating is that while carbohydrates are excellent for energy, the energy doesn’t last long without enough protein.
Why should I include protein at breakfast?
Protein plays many roles in the body. It’s beneficial to eat protein with all meals and snacks because it helps stabilize blood sugar and also helps with satiety so you feel fuller for longer after eating. And who doesn’t want that?!
So should you avoid cereal if it’s going to just make you hungry an hour later? Not necessarily but adding a good source of protein with your cereal will keep you feeling satisfied a little longer. For example, next time you have cereal, try adding eggs or a Greek yogurt with it and pay attention to how you feel mid-morning!
How much protein do I need?
The answer to this question is different for everybody. There are many factors that affect your protein needs such as your body weight, your body composition goals, exercise goals, activity levels, health factors and medical history.
Most adults should shoot for 15-20 grams of protein at breakfast or by mid-morning. If you’re curious how much protein you need, talk with your dietitian or doctor about your needs. If you have kidney issues or other health issues, you may need a lower amount of protein.
Let me tell you about one of my coaching clients who made improvements to her breakfast by incorporating more protein. It was difficult for her at first because she just doesn’t love high-protein foods. She added a Greek yogurt and a high protein granola bar to her breakfast and shortly noticed after adding more protein she felt full and it was easier for her to make good food choices the rest of the day. And best of all she just felt better! She truly felt that starting her day off strong with a well-rounded, protein rich breakfast was key for meeting her nutrition goals all day long!
So what protein foods should I eat at breakfast?
Here are 6 easy, protein-rich foods you can add to your breakfast to keep yourself feeling full throughout the morning!
2 eggs. These provide 12 grams of protein and can be hard-boiled, scrambled, or prepared any way you’d like!
5 oz low-fat Greek yogurt. This provides about 12 grams and is quick and easy if you purchase the individual cups! Throw some fruit and granola on top for extra goodness. There are many brands to choose from depending on your preferences. My personal favorite is the Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt which has just 80 calories, 12 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of fat.
2 turkey sausages. You can eat these in patties or crumble them and add to eggs with a slice of whole-wheat toast for an extra 13 grams of protein! Kodiak Cakes pancakes. These delicious pancakes add 14 grams of protein to your breakfast! You can make them yourself or buy them frozen.
Protein fruit smoothie. You can personalize this and any yogurt, fruit, and protein powder you’d like! Most will provide around 20 grams of protein. ½ cup of cottage cheese. For a small volume, this provides 12 grams of protein. I love to pair my cottage cheese with peaches!
What you eat for breakfast will affect your whole day. A good breakfast helps you break your evening fast and skipping it or not eating a well-rounded meal can throw off your entire day. Have you ever noticed that when you skip breakfast you are so hungry in the evening and typically make not so great choices as the day goes on?
Here is my challenge for you: Tomorrow, try starting your day with a protein rich breakfast and see if you notice a difference in how you eat and how you feel the rest of the day. My guess is you will!