There’s a ton of research that supports that eating a high-protein breakfast is a smart way to start the day. It can help you feel full, stabilize blood sugar and help you get enough of this important macronutrient. In fact, one study showed that eating a high-protein breakfast increased appetite hormones and satiety in adults.
Wondering if your current breakfast makes the “high protein” cut? For a food or a meal to be considered high protein, it needs to provide 20 grams of protein. So for a morning meal with staying power, you want to aim for a 400-calorie breakfast with 20 grams or more of protein. To help you take the guesswork out of choosing a breakfast that will leave you feeling full and ready to take on the day, we’ve rounded up 25 high-protein picks to satisfy every craving.
The quintessential breakfast food, eggs not only contribute protein to your meal, they also provide essential nutrients, including choline for brain health and vitamin D for immunity. One medium egg contains 6 grams of protein in just 60 calories. And don’t skip the yolk! Nearly half of the protein in an egg is found in the yolk, as well as a bevy of nutrients, including vitamin B12 and immune supporting zinc. Eggs are endlessly versatile and can be scrambled, boiled, poached, fried, baked and more. Even better, eggs provide the most budget-friendly form of animal protein.
Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN
Probably the easiest way to make sure you’re getting close to 20 grams of protein at breakfast is to get two eggs on your plate. Omelets are a great way to make sure you’re not only getting the benefits of protein, but also packing in the veggies and fiber you need. This Veggie Omelet with Cheese, Spinach and Cauliflower provides 20 grams of protein, as well as about 2 grams of fiber.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY
Meat lovers will want to try this American Omelet, which serves up 20 grams of protein even without the optional ham. You can use any diced leftover protein in this savory favorite.
And this 3-Ingredient Greek Omelet Scramble will serve up what you need, too. Just make it with 2 eggs instead of 4, cut the feta cheese down to ¼ cup and enjoy the whole serving by yourself.
Ever since Greek yogurt hit the market in the early 2000s, it’s become a protein-seekers go-to pick. You can dress Greek yogurt up with fresh fruit, granola and a little honey or add it to smoothies for a boosted morning shake. One 5.3-ounce cup of Greek yogurt will net you 11 grams of protein, plus at least 100 milligrams of bone-building calcium.
Courtesy Frances Largeman-Roth
If you like making smoothie bowls, this Energy Duo Smoothie Bowl will net you more than 20 grams of protein if you blend in a half cup of Greek yogurt into the smoothie base.
Greek yogurt isn’t the only pick in the dairy aisle with protein cred. Cottage cheese, which is currently experiencing a renaissance with the TikTok “ice cream” craze, packs in even more protein per serving. Half a cup of low-fat cottage cheese offers a sturdy 15 to 16 grams of protein in just 90 calories. And it’s incredibly versatile! You can enjoy it topped with fresh fruit, plus an ounce of pistachios, which will add an extra 6 grams of complete plant protein to get you to your 20 gram goal.
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cottage cheese can also be added as an ingredient to boost breakfast faves like pancakes and waffles. And I just upgraded last year’s yogurt toast with cottage cheese to make a crave-worthy, protein-packed brekkie. Two slices serve up a very hearty 33 grams of protein!
Cottage Cheese Custard Toast
To make 4 slices (2 slices/serving): Combine 1 cup whole milk cottage cheese, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons honey and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a blender and blend until smooth. Preheat oven to 400°. Place 4 slices of whole-grain bread (with 5 to 6 grams of protein per slice) on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Push soft part of bread down with a spoon or clean hands to make space for the custard. Spoon custard onto the toast and top with fresh berries, if desired. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until custard is set and edges of toast are golden.
While bacon does make everything better, it’s actually not a great source of protein, gracing your breakfast plate with just 6 grams of protein per two slices. You’ll do a little better if you opt for two classic breakfast sausage patties, which deliver 10 grams in two patties. Or you can opt for a plant-based option, like the ones from Beyond or Impossible, which will net you 11 and 12 grams respectively, for two patties. You can round out those patties with an egg or a yogurt to hit your 20 gram mark.
Is it possible that a New York deli favorite could be a protein powerhouse? Indeed, a sesame bagel with a schmear of cream cheese and 2 ounces of smoked salmon “lox” clocks in at 25 grams of protein. If you want to trim some of the calories, you could always wrap your salmon up in a tortilla (but I can’t guarantee it will be as satisfying).
Many of us are reducing the amount of animal protein in our diet for both our health and the health of our planet. And one of the smartest ways to get plenty of plant protein and cut down on water usage is by cooking with pulses (beans, lentils and chickpeas), which require minimal water to grow. One of the benefits of pulses is that they provide a substantial amount of protein, along with a hefty dose of fiber, all in a purse-friendly package. And when you buy them canned, the prep is minimal, making them a superstar pantry staple!
A breakfast burrito is about as easy to whip up as scrambled eggs. Throw a cup of black beans into a burrito with 2 tablespoons of shredded Mexican blend cheese, dress it up with salsa and you’ve got yourself a 20 gram protein breakfast in minutes.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY
Grab a high-protein tortilla with 7 grams of protein (like the ones from Mission) and fill it with ¼ cup of hummus (4 grams protein), a hardboiled egg (7 grams protein) and two tablespoons of chopped walnuts (2 grams protein) for a Mediterranean-style start to the day that will keep you satisfied for hours.
Other plant-protein powerhouses include nuts and seeds. While almonds are tops for tree nuts at 6 grams per 1-ounce serving, peanuts (a legume) clock in at a little over 7 gram per serving.
Swirling a tablespoon of nut butter into a bowl of oats, or slathering it on a slice of toast is a great way to add a protein boost to any breakfast. For a breakfast that nets you 24 to 26 grams, you’ll want to spread 1 tablespoon of nut butter over 2 slices of higher-protein bread (like Dave’s Killer Bread Good Seed bread or Ezekiel Bread). Who says toast isn’t a good breakfast option?
Blend up a rich, delicious breakfast with Natalie Morales’ Easy Protein-Packed Breakfast Smoothie. It combines the protein power of peanut butter, flaxseeds, and protein powder for an extra filling start to your day.
While it’s true that oats are known as a source of slow-burning carbohydrates, it turns out they’re no slouch in the protein department either. You can easily upgrade an overnight oats recipe by using regular milk or a pea protein-based milk instead of another plant milk. A half cup of rolled oats alone provide 7 grams of protein and by including Greek yogurt, chia seeds and pecans, you’re looking at a delicious and portable high-protein breakfast.
Powdered protein is ubiquitous these days. No doubt your Instagram feed is flush with ads for various plant-based or whey-based protein powders. Once you find one you like, they’re a super convenient way to level up your morning protein.
Mitch Mandel / Smoothies & Juices
For folks like me who like to refuel with a smoothie post-workout, including protein powder is a smart and easy way to meet your needs. The Workout Recovery Smoothie delivers 25 grams of protein in a delicious and satisfying glass.
And the Power Protein Smoothie provides a similar amount in a fruity and fiber-packed base. Getting protein within 30 minutes of a workout helps to repair any microtears from your sweat session.
You can also use protein powder to pump up your overnight oats, oatmeal, muffins or pancakes.
You’ve got loads of options for a hearty, protein-rich breakfast. Here’s to making the first meal of the day your most filling as well!