8 Breakfast Foods That Will Give You Protein

8 Breakfast Foods That Will Give You Protein

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as the body essentially “fasts” while you sleep; this means that when you wake up your body needs to “re-stock” with energy to get going again. However, many people skip breakfast or do not eat the right mix of nutrients that help the body to get started.

Breakfast foods such as donuts and pastries are high in sugar and may give you an instant “high” but before lunch time they will leave you feeling groggy and sluggish; whereas a breakfast high in protein will leave you feeling fuller for longer and keep energy levels up until lunch time.

The Benefits of Protein

Protein is important to the body in several ways. One of the most important factors about protein, with regard to breakfast, is that it is a valuable source of energy. In addition, protein is needed to manufacture tissue, enzymes, hormones and anti-bodies in the body. Protein is also needed to repair muscles and fight infections.

Protein is broken down by the body into amino acids. Although the body is capable of making some of these amino acids, there are some amino acids that can only be obtained through diet. These are called essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are obtained from two different types of protein sources.

Types of Protein

Essential amino acids are obtained from either complete protein or incomplete protein sources. A complete protein source contains all of the essential amino acids that the body needs whereas an incomplete protein source is low in one or more essential amino acids (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein). Complete protein sources include fish, milk, eggs and meat. Incomplete protein sources include rice, dry beans, nuts and peanut butter.

Recommended Daily Allowance of Protein

Protein needs vary, according to age and weight. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein for an adult female is 46 grams per day and 56 grams per day for an adult male. Protein should be part of an overall healthy eating plan that also includes carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.

Breakfast Foods With Protein

The body takes longer to digest protein than, for example, sugars, so a breakfast that is high in protein will lessen your need to “snack” throughout the morning. However, you should also be careful to watch the type and quantity of protein that you eat in order to maintain a healthy weight. Breakfast foods that contain protein include:

  • eggs
  • cheese
  • milk – one cup has approximately 8 grams of protein
  • yogurt – eight ounces has approximately 11 grams of protein
  • bacon
  • sausage
  • fish
  • turkey.

Some sources of protein, such as cheese, milk, bacon and sausage, may also contain high levels of fat. In addition, many brands of “commercial” yogurt sold in stores may contain preservatives and/or sugars. Healthy alternatives to foods heavy in fat include fish, turkey, unsweetened yogurt or home made yogurt, and low fat milk and cheese.

Protein and Breakfast

If you vary the type of foods that you consume for breakfast to include more protein, you should find that your energy levels improve and you feel more ready to face the day. Although it may seem like a good idea at the time to grab a donut and coffee on the way out of the door, a breakfast that includes a variety of eggs, yogurt, milk or meat may help you to maintain your energy levels for longer.


  • Balch, James F., Balch, Phyllis A., 1997, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, US: Avery
  • Young Women’s Health website: Protein
  • Centers for Disease and Prevention website: Protein
  • Harvard School of Public Health website: Protein, the Bottom Line

Photo by malias


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