30 Grams of Protein for Breakfast. Do it.

I went to a nutrition conference earlier this year and one of the speakers’ topics was protein. At first I thought, “what on Earth can this guy talk about with regards to protein, for a full hour?!”. The hour flew by as I learned more about protein than I ever thought I wanted to know (and yes, I wanted to know it, it was unbelievably interesting. Yes, I’m such a nutrition nerd). One of the things I will never forget was what he said about the importance of protein at breakfast.

I know I know, you already know protein is important at every meal, but did you know that research actually shows that 30 grams of protein at a meal can stimulate muscle growth?We tend to get very little protein at breakfast, then slightly more at lunch, then too much at dinner (the excess just turns to fat or it turned to glucose unless you actually use it). What we should do is try to evenly distribute our protein intake throughout each meal, so rather than getting ~10 grams of protein at breakfast, and 20 at lunch, and 50 at dinner (yes, this is typical of many American diets) we should aim for 30/30/30. This article from Science Daily explains some of the science behind this concept. Here is a bit from the article;

“Usually, we eat very little protein at breakfast, eat a bit more at lunch and then consume a large amount at night. When was the last time you had just 4 ounces of anything during dinner at a restaurant?” Paddon-Jones said. “So we’re not taking enough protein on board for efficient muscle-building during the day, and at night we’re taking in more than we can use. Most of the excess is oxidized and could end up as glucose or fat.”

A more efficient eating strategy for making muscle and controlling total caloric intake would be to shift some of extra protein consumed at dinner to lunch and breakfast.

If we can aim for ~30 grams per meal, our muscle synthesis, in theory, will be more efficient.The speaker at the conference said thatone study showed those who consumed 30 grams of protein, or more, at breakfast showed muscle growth compared to that you would get from a workout” (here is one of the studies to which the speaker referred)

Nick will kill me if he sees this on my blog.
Oh well.
I wanted to show you that we order breakfast even when on vacation (as in this photo) and I’m proud to say that Nick, a one-time non-breakfast-eater, now eats breakfast daily.

If you read Today’s Dietitian Magazine (which, I’m guessing most of you don’t, but I highly suggest it, even for non-RDs!) you already know how important breakfast is because they include articles about breakfast in almost every issue (ok, maybe not almost all, but many). There was an entire article about the benefits of breakfast in the latest issue (here is the article). I’ve added a small piece from the article here;

Studies also have found that a breakfast rich in protein may improve satiety and diet quality in teens and adults who are overweight or obese.5,10 A recent study used MRI to assess brain signals controlling food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior, and found that these signals were reduced following a high-protein breakfast—evidence that breakfast may be a valuable strategy to control appetite and regulate food intake.5

Ok, enough talk. How in the heck can you get 30 grams of protein for breakfast, anyway?! It takes some serious determination, I’ll tell you that right now. In all honesty, you’ll have to start putting some effort into your morning prep, but I think it’s worth it. Here are some ideas….

5 egg whites, in a bowl, with cinnamon, vanilla, and 1/4th cup oats. Allow to sit for ~15 minutes, then pour onto a hot non-stick skillet. Cool like an omelet, flipping after about 2 minutes. Make sure whites are cooked through, then top with blueberries and ~1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (and sugar-free syrup).
30 grams of protein

1-cup frozen blueberries, 1-cup skim milk, some stevia and 1-scoop chocolate whey protein, blended well. Top with 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt.
~30 g protein, total

Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars
12 grams of protein in 2 bars (~300 calories)
Add more protein by topping them with more yogurt, or adding whey protein to this recipe.
Ok, this is a stretch, but these bars are yummy.

Banana Split Oats
~250 calories and 5 grams protein
Modify the recipe by adding a scoop of whey or soy protein powder, and making with regular milk for extra protein (instead of almond milk)
~30 grams protein, total

Spicy Granola Bites
~ 230 calories and 5 grams of protein in 2 bites
Enjoy 2 bites with 1-cup of plain Greek yogurt (look for one with 25 grams of protein)
~ 30 grams protein, total

Popped Amaranth and Toasted Wheat Berry Breakfast Sundae
~370 calories and 20 grams of protein
Add more cottage cheese, sprinkle some protein powder on top, and/or chase with a glass of milk
~30 grams protein, total

Chocolate Teff Pudding
~162 calories and 5 grams protein
Add a couple scoops of protein powder or PB2
This is another one that is sort of pushing it….ie: not easy to reach 30 grams protein. A scoop or protein powder and some PB2 should get it up there…

Summer Frittata
2 slices, ~250 calories and 20 grams pf protein
Chase down with a glass of skim milk
~30 grams protein, total

Dark Chocolate Quinoa Bars
~230 calories and 6 grams protein
Enjoy with 1-cup plain Greek yogurt (with about 25 grams of protein)
~30 grams protein, total

Chocolate Chia Pudding and Raspberry Parfait
~17 grams of protein
Serve with ~1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
~30 grams protein, total

And of course don’t forget my all-time favorite breakfast (seen in the first photo on this post); Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, 1-scoop whey protein, stevia and unsweetened cocoa, plus some high-protein cereal like Kashi Go Lean. Yummmm. I swear, it’s tasty. Want more ideas? Check out my Breakfast Board on Pinterest! I’m especially a huge fan of all the breakfast burrito recipes (egg beaters are another great way to get protein in the morning, without the extra calories and cholesterol from eggs). You could also go one egg and then 3/4-1 cup of the egg beaters.

QUESTION: What’s your idea for a 30 gram protein breakfast??

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’m happy to say this will be be my first full weekend off of work in a very long time. I plan to live it up (ie: catch up on all the chores I have been neglecting). haha, yes, I do love my life.

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

Editor’s Note: After publishing this blog post a reader provided this article about protein recommendations for preventing muscle loss as we age. While the research might have focused on the elderly population, there is nothing wrong with starting this higher protein habit early (and remember, a balanced diet is still key, so be sure you aren’t increasing your protein at the expense of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables).

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Hi, my name is Rebecca Houston and I am a writer. I write about health, healthy food and daily meal plan for various websites.
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