Not all breakfasts have staying power.
Here are 8 creative, protein-packed meals to get your day started on the right foot.
Choose a protein-rich breakfast
A morning meal can refuel your body after a night of rest, satisfy your appetite so you’re less likely to graze later, and prime you to make healthy food choices throughout the rest of your day. But not all breakfasts are up to the task: Eating a substantial, protein-rich breakfast fills you up and keeps you full, so you end up eating less during the afternoon and evening hours. Plus, research shows that including protein at breakfast is critical to successful weight loss. Here are some sound, protein-packed meals to power up your day.
Waffles with ricotta and peaches
Top a whole-grain waffle with ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese and 1 sliced peach. (When peaches are no longer in season, feel free to substitute canned peaches or ½ cup crushed pineapple; always choose fruit that’s canned in its own juice rather than syrup.) The creamy ricotta cheese provides protein and calcium.
300 calories, 15g protein, 13g fat, 38g carb, 6g fiber
Quinoa is higher in protein than most whole grains, so it’s a great choice at breakfast. Layer ½ cup cooked quinoa, a 6-ounce container of nonfat yogurt, 1 small chopped apple, and a dash of cinnamon.
315 calories, 20g protein, 2g fat, 55g carb, 7g fiber
Here’s a healthy version of a classic sandwich. Toast a whole-grain English muffin and use it as a base. Top each half with a thin spread of low-fat mayo, a slice of warmed Canadian bacon (a lean, heart-smart replacement for fatty pork bacon), and plenty of lettuce and sliced tomato. If you prefer, you can swap out the Canadian bacon for 4 strips of turkey bacon.
205 calories, 16g protein, 4g fat, 30g carb, 3g fiber
Greek yogurt with fruit
Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as traditional yogurt, so it’s the perfect foundation for a substantial morning meal. Enjoy a 6-ounce container of nonfat Greek yogurt (plain or flavored) topped with 1 tablespoon chopped, toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, or any other variety), and add a banana, orange, half a grapefruit, or another piece of fruit on the side.
220–260 calories, 18–22g protein, 5g fat, 25–38g carb, 3g fiber
Berry protein smoothie
Combine ½ cup skim milk or soy milk, a 6-ounce container nonfat vanilla yogurt, ¾ cup fresh or frozen berries, and a few ice cubes in a blender. If you like, toss in a scoop of protein powder for an extra hit of protein.
Without protein powder: 210 calories, 21g protein, 0g fat, 31g carb, 3g fiber (1 scoop protein powder adds 20–25g protein and about 100 calories)
Cinnamon cottage cheese with sliced apple
Sprinkle ¾ cup nonfat or low-fat cottage cheese with cinnamon and serve with 1 sliced apple for scooping. The cottage cheese is heavy on protein and light on artery-clogging fat, and a sprinkling of cinnamon helps jazz up the taste.
250 calories, 25g protein, 2g fat, 36g carb, 5g fiber
Spinach-cheese egg scramble
Give your morning eggs a nutrition makeover! Sauté a few handfuls of baby spinach in oil spray, then add in 1 whole egg whipped with 2 to 3 egg whites. (I use mostly egg whites to cut back on the saturated fat and calories and bump up the protein.) Sprinkle with ¼ cup shredded reduced-fat cheese and scramble away! Enjoy with a whole grapefruit alongside.
330 calories, 29g protein, 11g fat, 32g carb, 7g fiber
Garden veggie omelet
Whip up an omelet with 1 whole egg and 2 to 3 egg whites, then stuff it full of your favorite veggies, like spinach, onion, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, even zucchini…plus any seasonings you like. When it’s seasonal, I like to mix in plenty of chopped basil too. Enjoy with a piece of whole-grain toast spread with a teaspoon of almond, cashew, or peanut butter for healthy fat. If you prefer, substitute a piece of fruit or 1 cup fresh fruit salad for the toast.
280 calories, 27g protein, 9g fat, 26g carb, 5g fiber
The cure for your sluggish mornings could be as simple as a smart breakfast. This list will help you choose foods that will give you sustained energy, not a short blast then a mid-day crash. Think complex carbohydrates (whole grains), high fiber, high protein, and good fats.
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