When you think about breakfast in the morning, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Carb-loaded foods like toast, bagels, and cereal? Or maybe your ideal breakfast consists of the traditional bacon and scrambled eggs combo.
It all sounds delicious but if protein isn’t at the top of your breakfast checklist, then you may want to reconsider. Eating a high-protein breakfast to start the day boosts your metabolism (hello, fat loss), gives you more energy, and even elevates your mood, just to name a few things.
Curious about what else protein in the mornings can do for you? Read on to get all the juicy benefits of a high-protein breakfast.
Protein is one of three primary macronutrients (i.e. the nutrients you eat the most of in your diet). Carbs and fats are the other two.
Proteins are made up of amino acids. And out of the 20 in your body, 9 are regarded as essential, which means your body can’t produce them on its own. You’ll need to get these 9 through your diet.
What’s Enough Protein?
How much protein do you need? It varies based on different factors, such as your gender, age, weight, how much you exercise, and your fitness goals. But general wisdom says your protein needs will fall somewhere in the camp between 10-40% of your overall calories.
Eating a high-protein breakfast is crucial to starting your day off on the right foot for everyone, especially if you are an athlete or regularly active.
Reasons for a High-Protein Breakfast
1. A high protein breakfast equals fat loss
A high-protein breakfast is great for weight loss and losing extra belly fat. So if eating less and shedding a few pounds is your goal, then starting your morning off by eating a high-protein breakfast is one surefire way to get you there.
Research shows that protein lowers ghrelin levels (a hunger hormone) and gives a boost to hormones that make you feel fuller (such as peptide YY). And the thing with eating protein at breakfast is that it doesn't just fill you up for that meal. A high-protein breakfast positively impacts hormones and other bodily processes that help you curb hunger for the entire day.
One 12-week study even found that upping protein intake to 30% of total caloric intake led to participants eating 441 fewer calories per day and losing a little over 11 pounds, on average.
2. It revs up your metabolism
Not only can a high-protein breakfast lead to fat loss by helping you feel more full and eating less, but just the act of eating protein itself can help you burn more calories.
Your body burns calories to digest the food you eat. This is known as the “thermic effect of food.” As luck would have it, protein’s thermic effect is significantly higher than carbohydrates and fats due to the fact that your body uses more energy (and burns more calories) to break it down.
So, just how many calories can eating protein help you burn? Up to 80 more per day. You might not think that’s a whole lot but eating 80 fewer calories per day adds up to a little over 8 pounds of fat loss in a year!
3. Build more muscle
When it comes to building muscle, adequate protein intake is essential. Working out breaks your muscles down, and through a process known as protein synthesis, your body makes new protein to build your muscles back up.
If you want to maximize muscle growth, protein will play a big part in supporting that process. A high-protein breakfast is a great place to start!
4. Maintain stable blood sugar and energy levels
The sugars from most breakfast cereals, donuts, and baked goods skyrocket your blood sugar and can lead to huge fluctuations or spikes that are detrimental to your health. Not only that but the inevitable crash from all the sugar zaps your energy levels and can leave you feeling like a zombie.
Protein doesn’t drastically alter your blood sugar levels, which means a more steady flow of energy throughout the day.
5. Improved mood
Did you ever think that protein could benefit your mental health? When you start your day off with a high-protein breakfast, it enhances your body’s tyrosine, which is an amino acid that produces dopamine and norepinephrine—two brain chemicals that provide you with energy, elevate your mood, and can improve your concentration and motivation.
High-Protein Breakfast Ideas
For high-protein breakfast foods, you want to aim for sources of complete protein. They include the 9 amino acids your body can’t produce on its own. Lean meats for breakfast like turkey sausage or bacon, and ham are great options. Eggs and egg whites, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese are some other quality complete protein sources.
One simple high-protein breakfast idea is making a breakfast bowl. Combine quick ingredients like turkey sausage, eggs, peppers, and some cheese into a bowl to create the ultimate high-protein breakfast.
Plant-based and looking for some vegan or vegetarian protein sources? Try oats, quinoa (yes, for breakfast!), tofu, sprouted whole grain bread, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
Ultimately though, the best high-protein breakfast is actually a balanced one. You don’t want to swear off carbs and fats completely, because a balanced diet is key to overall health (and let’s be honest, your sanity).
Protein Wrap Up
Starting your day off with a high-protein breakfast has many benefits—from curbing hunger and quick-starting your metabolism—to maximizing muscle growth and even boosting your mood.
Do you struggle with hitting your protein goals? Don’t feel like preparing a meal every single time just to get some protein in?
Protein shakes are the ultimate cheat code when it comes to meeting your protein needs. They’re a time-saver, easy to get down, and maybe most importantly—they’re chock-full of protein.
Check out our variety of protein powder supplements designed to help you become stronger, faster, healthier, and most importantly—achieve your fitness goals!
Meet the Author
Chad Richardson is a freelance copywriter from Cincinnati, OH. When he's not behind his computer, you can find Chad at the gym pretending to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, searching for new recipes on Instagram, or at home watching his hometown Redlegs struggle for yet another season.