Breakfast Foods That Are Healthy Sources of Protein
Benefits of adding protein to your breakfast
The importance of eating a diet rich in protein cannot be underscored enough. Protein is such a vital nutrient that the health and well-being of the human body suffers when it is lacking. Not only is protein essential to helping the body rebuild and restore itself, but a diet rich in protein aids in the building of muscle and bone.
Beginning each day by eating healthy sources of protein for breakfast is a great way to make sure your body gets off to a good start.
Additional health-pleasing benefits of protein include keeping the body feeling full longer, as well as staying energized. Protein literally takes longer for the body to digest than unhealthier sources of food, helping to keep pangs of hunger at bay. For people trying to either lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, increasing protein intake while decreasing bad fats has been proven effective.
Eggs - a healthy source of protein for breakfast
When it comes to including healthy sources of protein at the breakfast table, many people first think to add eggs to their meal. Eggs, a low-cost breakfast food that can be quick and easy to prepare, are an excellent source of protein and nutrients.
For those that are time-crunched in the morning, preparing hard-boiled eggs ahead of time makes including eggs at breakfast even that much more simple and quick.
Grams of protein
According to the American Egg Board, eggs provide a very high quality of protein. It seems that the protein in eggs not only contains all the essential amino acids that humans need, but they do so in a "near-perfect pattern."
It's important to understand that there are two types of protein:
- Complete protein
- Incomplete protein
Proteins are made up of about twenty amino acids. Amino acids that are necessary for the body to build its own proteins are called essential amino acids and complete proteins contain nine of these essential amino acids.
Sources of complete protein include:
- Meat, fish and poultry
- Other sources of animal protein
Even though incomplete proteins do not contain these nine essential amino acids, they still are necessary in the process of creating proteins and should be included in every diet.
Sources of incomplete proteins include:
- Fruits and vegetables
Renowned cardiologist and television talk show host, Dr. Mehmet Oz, explains in The Power of Protein, that the body does not store amino acids and that is why it is necessary to consume both forms of protein each and every day:
Complete and incomplete proteins play an equally important role in this [protein building] process. The best way to get all the protein you need is to pick from wide and varied sources.
Symptoms of egg allergy
Did you know that some vaccines are made with an egg base and should be avoided by people with severe allergies to eggs?
Symptoms of egg allergies:
- Skin rash
- Nasal inflammation
- Other digestive problems
- Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath
Source: Mayo Clinic Egg Allergy Symptoms
Egg allergies and protein
Unfortunately some people are allergic to eggs - specifically to the proteins found in the yolk. It is not even safe for people with egg allergies to consume the whites of eggs since they may contain traces of the yolk.
Egg allergy sufferers should always be careful to avoid foods that may contain hidden sources of egg, including: baked goods, pasta, soup, salted pretzels with an egg wash, and even specialty coffee drinks with foams and creams that may contain egg.
Just because a person cannot eat eggs does not mean they cannot eat other sources of healthy protein for breakfast.
Healthy sources of protein for breakfast besides eggs
Fortunately, for people who cannot eat eggs, or for those that do not want to eat them every day, there is a myriad of healthy sources of protein for breakfast.
The numerous sources of protein available for breakfast, snacks or any meal of the day, makes meeting the goal of consuming a wide variety of proteins, both the complete and incomplete types, easily attainable.
Consider the possible breakfast foods pictured below. Each breakfast item contains protein; after all protein is found in fruit, grains, nuts, and animal sources such as dairy.
Amount of protein in breakfast foods above
Tropicana orange juice - 8oz.
Chobani greek yogurt
Quaker Oatmeal - 1 packet low sugar
Jiff peanut butter - 1T
Bread - 2 slices
Protein in oats
- 3.5 oz rolled oats dry = 16g
- 1/4 cup dry steel-cut oats = 7g
Oatmeal is a hearty source of protein for breakfast
Oatmeal is a good example of a grain that contains protein and is readily available in the breakfast aisle of the grocery store. Rolled oats can be made with milk instead of water to add even more protein.
Today, more people are appreciating the nuttier flavor of steel-cut oats compared to rolled oats. Whichever type of oat is preferred, oats can be used in recipes for pancakes, muffins, protein bars, protein shakes, as well as a traditional bowl of oatmeal.
To add additional flavor and color and even more protein to a warm bowl of oatmeal, add:
Protein in peanut butter
- 1T Jiff smooth peanut butter = 3.5g
- 1T Smuckers natural, chunky peanut butter = 3.5g
- 1T Mara Natha organic crunchy peanut butter = 4g
Peanut butter and nuts are a tasty source of protein that can be added to any breakfast
Nuts got a bad wrap in the "low-fat" dieting frenzy of years past. While limiting the amount of saturated fat in one's diet is a good thing, care should be taken not to eliminate all of the heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
Unfortunately, since nuts are thought of us fatty and are high calorie, many people swear them off. In fact, nuts are a valuable source of protein among other nutrients, and when consumed in moderation are an excellent addition to any diet.
A small handful of protein packed nuts mid-morning or mid-afternoon is a great way to avoid unhealthy snacking. Nuts can also be part of a nutritious breakfast, easily sprinkled on top of pancakes or oatmeal, or eaten whole. Additionally, peanut butter on toast is a favorite of many. Natural peanut butters and organic peanut butters are even healthier options.
Protein in Greek yogurt
- 6 oz. Yoplait Greek = 11g
- 5.3 oz. Dannon Oikos = 11-12g
- 6 oz Chobani = 14-16g
Dairy foods like Greek yogurt pack a lot of protein in every bite
Greek yogurt has double the amount of protein as regular yogurt and a very satisfying, creamy consistency. Gaining in popularity, Greek yogurt seems to be overtaking the dairy section normally allotted to regular yogurt.
The traditional big name yogurt brands, Dannon, Yoplait and Chobani, for example, have a wide variety of flavors. From plain vanilla to yogurt with fruit on the bottom, having a bowlful of Greek yogurt is a very tasty and healthy source of protein for breakfast.
With twice the protein of regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is a smart addition to breakfast, especially for anyone trying to lose weight and avoid feeling hungry.
Greek yogurt is available in many flavors and brandsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Protein in milk and dairy
1 cup milk = 8g
1/2 cup cottage cheese = 15g
1 oz. cheddar cheese = 7g
Milk and dairy
Milk and dairy should be part of a healthy breakfast
Besides Greek yogurt, other sources of dairy provide convenient ways to add healthy sources of protein to breakfast. In addition to all of the other vitamins and nutrients that dairy products include or are fortified with, a lot of bang for your protein buck is gotten with a glass of milk.
Other dairy products with protein to add to breakfast include:
- Yogurt (regular or Greek)
- Cottage cheese
Protein in turkey bacon
- 1 slice Eating Right turkey bacon = 6g protein
Lean meats like turkey bacon are a crunchy way to include protein in breakfast
Including a wide array of proteins in one's diet each day is optimal, and animal sources of protein are especially necessary since they are complete proteins. Full of all the amino acids required for the body to make its own proteins, healthy cuts of meat and fish can be part of breakfast.
For those that cannot forgo greasy bacon, consider the healthier alternative - turkey bacon. Turkey bacon can be both satisfying in flavor and texture, and is a good way to start the day off with protein.
Turkey bacon and other meats are sources of protein
Protein in shakes and bars
- 1 cup Silk Fruit and Protein = 5g
- 1 bottle Oh-Yeah Nutritional Shake = 32g
- 14 oz. bottle Muscle Milk = 20g
- 1 bar Protein Plus bar = 23g
Protein shakes and protein bars provide protein for breakfast-on-the-run
While it's important to always set time aside to start the day off with a healthy breakfast, there certainly are days where time is a precious commodity. In those instances the best way to include protein in a breakfast-on-the-go may be from foods and drinks that purposefully are made to be protein-rich.
Entire aisles in grocery stores are stocked with high protein products meant to increase energy and build muscle. These energy bars and protein drinks/powders are especially geared towards physically active individuals and people trying to add muscle.
However, these protein-packed drinks and bars are a quick alternative when there is not the time to prepare an otherwise healthy breakfast.
Protein shakesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Daily protein requirements
Age and sex
Are you getting enough protein in your diet?
Protein information is readily available on packages and easily found for whole foods, but it is important to know how much protein the body requires on a daily basis.
According to a 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey some females are missing the mark. The study revealed that 7.7% of teenage females and approximately 8% of older adult women were not meeting minimum recommended amounts of protein.
To be healthy and feel good everyone should do their best to eat the required amounts of protein for their given age and sex. In addition to eggs, healthy sources of protein for breakfast foods are plentiful. Gone are the excuses of not liking eggs or having time to prepare a high protein breakfast. Providing energy and stamina, your body will thank you when you fuel it up with protein.
Source: Protein: Are you getting enough?