Protein has becoming increasingly important to me over the past few years. For a period of time, roughly one year, I was basically vegan and not getting enough protein. It was not a good health path for me as it ended up wrecking my hormones and putting me on a two year journey to get them back in working order. Since then I’ve been on a mission to learn more about protein and it’s importance in our bodies. Here are a few things I have learned:
- Protein is essential in helping to grow and maintain lean muscle mass. Muscle mass decreases 3-8% per decade after age 30, resulting in decreased strength and function.
- Protein provides our bodies with the building blocks necessary to produce hormones your body needs for proper function.
- Protein is required for stable blood sugar and helps you to feel satiated for longer periods of time.
- Protein has also been shown to increase IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) production, a hormone involved in the formation of bone, helping to prevent against bone loss as we age.
- Adequate protein levels are proven to help keep our immune systems working effectively and efficiently.
This is no means an exhaustive list, but just a few facts that alongside my personal symptoms and experience have convinced me of the important of this macronutrient in our lives. How much do we need? Their is conflicting information. The RDA is .36g per pound of body weight. Personally and anecdotally from others, 0.8-1g of protein per pound of body weight has been more effective in achieving the desired results. This definitely may not be for everyone, so do your own research, but personally I’ve seen a positive impact from playing around with increasing my protein intake.
One tough thing about protein is it can be hard to eat enough in a day. One of the best tips I’ve found in hitting my protein goals is to spread my intake throughout the day, beginning with a a high protein breakfast recipes. Not only does this start my day off with stabile blood sugar levels, it keeps me from having to heavy load my protein at the end of the day. Today I’m sharing some tips and ideas to start your day off in a healthy, satiating, health-forward way with my favorite high protein breakfast ideas!
High Protein Breakfast Meal Prep
Fried Eggs over a Veggie-Rich Hash
This is so delicious and my favorite high protein breakfast. It’s rich in protein and fiber. You can make your own roasted veggie blend to freeze or keep in the fridge, or purchase. The Pura Vida giant bag of frozen roasted vegetables from Costco has a great ingredient list and are tasty. Loading your hash base up with roasted onions, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, zucchini, cauliflower rice, baby spinach, and potatoes provides a satisfying base on which to add a fried egg or two, or scrambled eggs if you prefer. I like to add in some chicken sausage to the base for an even greater boost in protein.
To make this a faster morning meal, have veggies and sausage prepped in a glass storage container. Cook your desired portion stove top over medium heat for 5 minutes, then either crack in the eggs and mix for a scramble, or simultaneously fry your desired number of eggs in another pan. Add a sprinkle of fresh herbs from a countertop garden (read my comparison post, here) if you want to get fancy, or a slice of avocado, or a sprinkle of goat cheese, or a splash of hot sauce, and enjoy. See more savory breakfast bowls here.
You might also be surprised at the protein content in some bread options. For example, Dave’s Killer Bread Everything Bagels have 13g of protein per bagel. A half bagel with cream cheese and two eggs will get 20+ grams of protein to start your day.
Cottage Cheese Bowls or Toast
Perhaps this one should just say cottage cheese because you can do so many things with it- put it on toast, in a smoothie, mixed into scrambled eggs, blended into pancake batter, or made into a cottage cheese bowl, decorated with fruit and nuts for a sweet take or fresh tomatoes, basil, and balsamic for a savory take, or layered on your favorite toast for a scrumptious blend of crunch and creamy. I love this option because it doesn’t take much meal prep. Have your preferred toppings prepped in the fridge, built your cottage cheese bowl or toast, and enjoy your protein packed breakfast!
In my opinion, not all cottage cheese is created equal, so if you’ve written it off based on prior experience, I encourage you to try Good Culture brand. It’s delicious and their classic 2% variety has 14g of protein per half cup serving.
Bone Broth for Sipping
I’m not advocating for the viral hot chocolate bone broth (though if that’s your thing, rock on). However, bone broth is amazing because it supports our health not only with protein (9-10g per 1 c serving), but by also providing calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin K2, iron, zinc, selenium, and manganese; all essential to our metabolic function and good health. I like to sip it in the mornings a few times a week and here’s how I make mine.
- bone broth
Step One: Put a small pot on the stove over medium heat.
This can be done in the microwave if you are in a hurry, but I prefer it stove top. Over medium heat, add your bone broth of choice. It can be homemade or store-bought. For a store bought option, I prefer Kettle & Fire for their rich flavor and incredible ingredient list. You can purchase online here and use the code AHS for 20% off your order.
Step Two: Add spices.
While gently whisking, add turmeric and cinnamon. These pack a nutritional punch of anti-inflammatory compounds and blood sugar stabilizing capabilities. If your broth is homemade or unsalted, also add a hearty pinch of a mineral-rich salt, like Redmond’s.
Step Three: Turn off heat and finish with a squeeze of lemon.
Not only does this step add a boost of vitamin C, it also helps balance the flavor profile by adding an element of acidity, making it delicious! Transfer to a mug, sip, and enjoy.
Oh the wonderful, endless varieties of egg muffins out there. If you play around with it a little, you’re bound to find the combination that lights you up. I recommend starting with a basic recipe to follow, like these loaded egg cups from Cooking Classy. Then, play around with the mix-ins and save yourself time by using the liquid eggs (I like the ones from Vital Farms) and see if that’s a worthy time saving short cut for your breakfast meal prep.
Store them in the fridge for a quick, protein rich breakfast option. Reheat egg muffins in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds, or place them in a baking dish and heat them in a preheated 350 F oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes, until heated through.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie
If you prefer sweet to savory in the morning, make it a healthy pick with a smoothie that tastes like dessert but provides you with a solid boost of protein. FlavCity chocolate peanut butter protein powder is so good. It’s 100% grass-fed whey, 25g or protein per scoop, gluten free, contains adaptogens, and has no added sugar.
You can add additional nut butter if you’d like, but I love that it has so much delicious flavor on it’s own that I don’t need to add anything to it if I’m in a hurry and want something quick and easy. In fact, it mixes so well that I don’t even need my blender. A shaker bottle with a blender ball will do the trick, so I often add just half almond milk, half water, and a scoop of protein when I need a boost with some staying power. If you want it frothy and cold, just throw the mix in your blender with some ice cubes.
Doctored Up Oatmeal
You can make the morning off or go full on food prep and make overnight oats, setting it up the night before to be ready to grab and go in the morning. You can even accomplish some high protein breakfast meal prep by making baked protein oatmeal on Sunday, then storing in the fridge to reheat on the weekday morning. This high protein breakfast can provide it all- fiber, protein and healthy fats if assembled well.
To make the oats higher in protein, try the egg white prep method or simply stir in some of your favorite protein powder. To up the fiber and healthy fat content, mix in ground flax seed, sprinkle on chia seeds, and top with your favorite nut or seeds. All together, this makes an flavorful and balanced healthy breakfast!
Starting your day off with protein will keep your brain alert, regulate your hunger, and provide your body with the muscle and hormone building support it needs. Generally it’s easier to think of ways to get protein at lunch and dinner with animal protein main dishes, but don’t forget about the power of beans. Pinto beans provide 15g of protein per cooked cup and are an economical choice. Check out these recipes with pinto beans. For easy options to feed dinner to a crowd, consider these easy crockpot dinners for family. And for a continued focus on protein, check out my go-to sources for protein.
Share with me- what are your favorite high protein breakfast ideas?