We’ve all heard the saying that ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’. What’s also important is getting enough protein in every single meal. Ideally, we should consume 1g of protein per our body weight in kilograms. This means that per meal, you should be aiming for 20-30g of high- quality protein.
Protein is only second to carbohydrate as the most important nutrient we should get from our meals. Protein is responsible for pretty much every process in your body such as cellular metabolism, cell growth, and repair of damaged cells.
Everything in your body, from hair to muscle tissue is made from protein. Protein also forms important chemicals such as enzymes and hormones. So, as you can see, poor protein intake can cause a lot of havoc in the body.
When it comes to protein, it is also important to pay attention to the quality of protein, especially for those on a plant-based diet such as vegetarians. This is because high-quality, complete proteins are usually found in animal products.
Most plant-based sources have incomplete protein, so a combination of them need to be eaten to get full protein. A complete protein simply means that all the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce are present in the food source and we need to consume foods containing them.
Protein is also more satiating than carbohydrates, which is especially important for breakfast, where you may need to wait several hours to get your next meal.
High Protein Ingredients
Before suggesting a list of quick, high-protein breakfast recipes, it would be very useful to know which breakfast ingredients are high in protein. You could then mix and match them to create your own recipes!
Eggs have been a stable breakfast choice for centuries. It’s a cheap source of complete protein. 100g (equal to two large eggs) can give you 11 g of protein.
Like eggs, oats have been an incredibly popular breakfast choice for many because of its high carbohydrate and protein content. Two cups of cooked oatmeal can get you 12 g of protein.
Beans are a very underrated source of protein and are invaluable for plant-based dieters like vegans and vegetarians. Beans are a part of the legume family, which are the plant sources with the highest protein content. Beans are served in some parts of the world for breakfast, such as in the UK (as part of a hearty English Breakfast), parts of Latin America (refried beans served in huevos rancheros) and some parts of the Middle East (chickpeas and hummus). One cup of baked beans can give you 14 g of protein.
Although chickpeas are technically beans as well, they deserve a separate mention because they’re one of the richest sources of plant-based protein. One cup of cooked chickpeas can deliver 15 g of protein. In some parts of the world, chickpea flour is used to make savoury pancakes which are eaten for breakfast.
Tofu is made from the coagulated curds from soy milk. They are also a rich source of protein for plant-based dieters. Soybeans are also one of the only complete plant-based proteins along with quinoa, so it is an excellent choice for vegans and vegetarians. One cup of tofu delivers about 20g of protein. Not only does tofu contain high amounts of protein, they contain other essential minerals like calcium and iron as well, both of which are hard to find in a vegetarian diet.
Along with soybeans, quinoa also contains complete protein which makes it a plant-based nutritional powerhouse. One cup of cooked quinoa contains around 8g of protein.
There has been a lot of hype around Greek yoghurt, and there is a good reason for it. Greek yoghurt, like eggs, are a low-calorie food with a high protein content. 100g of Greek Yoghurt contains about 10g of high-quality protein.
Seeds, Nuts and Nut Butters
Second to the legume family, nuts and seeds are the second richest protein in a plant-based diet. Nuts such as almonds, macadamia nuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts and walnuts are high in protein. Seeds that are high in protein include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds. Here are the protein contents of some popular nuts and seeds for a one-ounce serving:
- Almonds- 6g
- Walnuts- 4g
- Peanuts- 7g
- Cashew Nuts- 5g
- Pumpkin Seeds- 5g
- Chia seed- 4.7g
Not only are nuts and seeds high in protein, they also contain other important minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and iron. They are also nutritional powerhouses in a plant-based diet.
However, it is also important to note that nuts and seeds are very high-calorie foods, so they should be consumed moderately.
For breakfast, you can sprinkle some chopped nuts and seeds over oatmeal or into a smoothie. Peanut butter is also a very underrated source of protein, with one tablespoon containing 4g of protein.
Quick, High-Protein Breakfast Ideas
So, now that we know which ingredients are high in protein, here is a list of ideas for quick, high-protein breakfasts:
- Huevos Rancheros contains both eggs and refried beans which are both high-protein foods.
- Shakshuka, a dish containing eggs cooked in tomato sauce. Add some chickpeas for extra protein.
- Overnight oats with Nuts and Seeds. Leave oats and any milk of your choice overnight. Sprinkle some nuts and seeds to boost the protein content.
- Frittata with vegetables. Frittatas are a great way to cook eggs and use leftover vegetables at the same time.
- Greek yoghurt Parfait with fruit and granola. You can add some nuts and seeds instead of granola to boost the protein content.
- Tofu Scramble is a great high-protein dish for vegans and vegetarians. Prepare the same way as you would scrambled eggs.
- Poached Eggs in the Microwave. You can use the microwave to poach eggs quickly and enjoy with whole grain toast. Crack an egg into a microwaveable bowl and cover with water. Microwave for about a minute in a medium power setting.
- Protein-Fruit Smoothie. Throw in some peanut butter, whey protein powder, chocolate powder, bananas and a milk of your choice into the blender for a delicious high-protein shake.