Regardless of your goals, protein is an essential nutrient, and eating protein at breakfast is a great way to support your health. Not only is protein important for muscle building, recovery, and the immune system, but protein has been shown to support weight loss, curb cravings, and balance blood sugar by triggering the release of satiety hormones that keep us full for longer periods of time. So, in an effort to help get you set up for a day of success, here is a list of high-protein breakfast foods that you can add to your next morning meal.
When it comes to breakfast the first foods that come to mind are likely eggs, oatmeal, and cereal, however, there are so many different foods that you can eat for breakfast to help boost your overall protein intake.
Although the exact amount of protein needed will vary from person to person, eating 15 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast is a great way to help balance your blood sugar, keep you full and support your energy levels throughout the day.
These high-protein breakfast foods contain at least 10 grams of protein, so you can eat them on their own or pair them together to help boost your overall protein intake.
List of High-Protein Breakfast Foods
Here is a list of common, and not-so-common, breakfast foods that are high in protein.
Eggs are a no-brainer breakfast protein, but it’s important to remember that there are so many different ways to use them. Whether it’s scrambled, poached, fried, hard-boiled, or cooked into an omelet, eggs are an inexpensive and versatile way to add some protein to breakfast. Not to mention, when paired with a slice of toast and a bit of cheese you can easily increase the overall protein content of a meal to over 20 grams without much effort. If you’re sick of boiled eggs or don’t have time to cook them up in the morning, try a make-ahead option like these red pepper & spinach egg muffins, meal prep breakfast bowls, or Greek omelet casserole for a high-protein breakfast.
Nutrition: 12 grams of protein per 2-egg serving (1)
2. Greek Yogurt
All varieties of yogurt naturally contain some protein, however, the process of making Greek yogurt helps to increase the overall protein content per serving. The traditional process of making Greek yogurt is done by straining regular yogurt extensively to remove excess liquid whey and lactose, leaving behind a thicker-textured yogurt, and a tangy, creamy product. This produces a yogurt lower in carbohydrates (or natural sugars) and higher in protein content per serving, making it an ideal high-protein breakfast food to add to your meal. Greek yogurt can be eaten on its own, packed into a berry & chia yogurt parfait, or cooked right into these blueberry yogurt pancakes for a delicious high-protein breakfast.
Nutrition: 17 grams of protein per 170 gram or 3/4 cup serving (2)
3. Turkey Sausages
Whether they are turkey, chicken, pork, or beef, sausages can add a good boost of protein to any breakfast. If you are looking to keep calories down, turkey or chicken sausages are a great way to add a lot of protein without additional calories, given they are lower in overall fat content, however, there is nothing unhealthy about using pork or beef sausages if that’s what you prefer. Regardless of what option you choose, be sure to read the ingredients and opt for a version with meat and seasoning, and minimal additives and preservatives. Sausages can be eaten on their own, as a side to eggs, or taken out of the casing and cooked right into a veggie-packed dish like this sweet potato breakfast hash.
Nutrition: 14 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving (3)
4. Cottage Cheese
Not only is cottage cheese a high-protein breakfast food that is quick and convenient but it can be eaten as a sweet or savory dish paired with everything from fruit and honey to meat and grains. It also works well in breakfast baked goods such as cottage cheese pancakes. A mere 1/2 cup serving of 2% cottage cheese contains as much protein as a 3oz serving of chicken and more than a serving of eggs.
Nutrition: 12 grams per 1/2 cup serving (4)
5. Smoked Salmon
Although not as common in the standard North American diet, fish is excellent breakfast food. Not only does it contain a ton of protein, but fatty sources of fish like salmon are also rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for optimal health. Smoked salmon is delicious in a sandwich, paired with a bagel and cream cheese or cottage cheese, and also works well cooked into scrambled eggs or omelets, or baked into fish cakes. In addition to salmon, tuna, cod, and mackerel all work well for breakfast and, if you are feeling adventurous, give sardines a try for a quick and easy high-protein breakfast option.
Nutrition: 16 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving (5)
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or not, tofu is an excellent alternative to eggs and can easily be cooked into a hearty veggie-packed scramble in minutes for a high-protein breakfast. Roughly 3/4 cup of extra-firm tofu, broken into pieces and cooked into a tofu scramble, can serve as a plant-based protein replacement for 2 eggs. However, because tofu can be a little bland on its own, be sure to add lots of spices, herbs, and seasonings to ensure that it is well-flavored.
Nutrition: 8 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving (6)
7. Black Beans
Black beans, along with other beans and lentils, are not only a good source of plant-based protein, but they are a great source of soluble fiber which helps to provide support for blood sugar balance, cardiovascular health, and satiety. Black beans can easily be prepared by boiling them and adding them to your favorite breakfast burrito or baked egg dish, but if you are in a pinch canned black beans are also a great option and make a great addition to these Tex-Mex breakfast bowls for a high-protein breakfast.
Nutrition: 15 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, cooked (7)
8. Protein Powder
Although not technically a food, high-quality protein powder is a good alternative for people who love smoothies, hate to cook, or are in a pinch. Today, there are many different sources and brands to choose from, however, it is important that you do your homework because not all protein powders are created equal. It is also important to keep in mind that protein powder is considered a supplement because it is just that: a supplement to a whole foods diet. So, if you struggle to include protein in your diet, protein powder can be a good quick fix but don’t look to it as a long-term solution.
Nutrition: 20 grams of protein per 1 scoop or 28-gram serving (8)
9. Dinner Leftovers
If you are able to let go of the idea of “breakfast foods”, you will open yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities and make finding high-protein breakfast foods a whole lot easier. In reality, there is no such thing as “breakfast foods”, there is only food and you can eat any food at any hour or meal of the day. Chicken, beef, fish, beans, and lentils can all be eaten for breakfast as a source of protein, and dinner leftovers are a great way to create a high-protein breakfast in minutes. You can easily reheat last night’s chicken and veggies, stew, or stir-fry for a delicious and savory high-protein meal that will keep you full for hours to come.
Additional High-Protein Breakfast Foods
In addition to these foods that contain over 10 grams of protein per serving, there are many other commonly consumed breakfast foods that contain slightly less protein but when paired together can help to increase the overall protein content of a meal. Some additional high-protein breakfast foods include (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18):
- Oats: 5 grams of protein per 1/2 cup, dry, serving
- Peanut Butter: 7 grams of protein per 2-tablespoon serving
- Bacon: 5 grams of protein per 2-slice serving
- Milk: 8 grams of protein per 1 cup serving
- Cheese: 7 grams of protein per 1 oz serving
- Whole-Grain Bread: 4 grams of protein per 1 slice serving
- Quinoa: 8 grams of protein per 1 cup, cooked, serving
- Almonds: 6 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving
- Pumpkin Seeds: 5 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving
- Chia Seeds: 5 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving
- And many more!
How to Build a High-Protein Breakfast
By simply combining a variety of ingredients listed above you can easily create a high-protein breakfast with over 20 grams of protein without much effort; here are some simple combinations to help get you started.
- 1/2 cup oats + 1 cup milk + 2 tablespoons peanut butter = 20 grams of protein
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese + 1 oz. almonds + 1 tablespoon chia seeds = 23 grams of protein
- 2 eggs + 2 slices whole-grain bread + 1 oz. cheddar cheese = 27 grams of protein
- 3 oz. smoked salmon + 1 oz. goat cheese + 1 slice whole-grain bread = 27 grams of protein
- 2 oz. turkey sausage + 1 cup black beans + 1 oz. feta cheese = 31 grams of protein
The Bottom Line
When it comes to building a healthy breakfast, there are plenty of high-protein breakfast foods to choose from. Whether it’s eggs, sausages, tofu, or black beans, the options, and combinations are endless, and building a high-protein breakfast will help ensure that you feel full, minimize cravings, and keep you energized for the day ahead. So the next time you are making breakfast, be sure to choose from this list of high-protein breakfast foods and experiment with different options and ingredients to find the combinations that work for you.