Protein-Containing Breakfast Ideas

I was recently asked via Twitter (follow me if you don’t already: @NutritionNerd) for some ideas on healthy, protein-containing breakfasts for rushed, on-the go type mornings. As it turns out, I have some experience with crazy, hectic, need to eat on the run type mornings – and I’m sure most of you do as well.

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One of the problems with most breakfast foods is that they tend to be high in carbohydrates and lacking in protein. I.e. – toast with butter and jam; doughnuts/pastries/ muffins; waffles/pancakes; oatmeal ; fruit; cereal, etc. So how can we incorporate more protein during breakfast when we don’t have time to sit down for an omelet? Here are some suggestions for grab and go protein foods:

  • String cheese – 6-8 g of protein. Just look for one with less than 2 g of saturated fat.
  • Hard boiled eggs – around 6 g protein per large egg. Make a few at night and then you have them ready to grab in the morning during the work week.
  • Edamame – around 17 g protein per cup. Frozen bags microwave in seconds while you round-up your keys and briefcase.
  • Almonds – 6 g protein per ounce (about 23 whole almonds). If you are an oatmeal person, I suggest tossing some almonds in while microwaving your oatmeal. They are also easy to eat raw on the commute as well.
  • Single serve milk boxes such as Horizon’s Organic (8 g per box) or Silk Soy Milk (6-7 g per box).
  • Greek yogurt – protein content varies depending upon brand, flavor and size of container – but the average is about 14 g protein per container. Top these off with some granola and remember your spoon to enjoy this in the car, on the train/bus/etc!
  • Peanut butter – my personal favorite – giving us 7 g of protein per 2 Tbsp. Scoop some in to small Tupperware containers on the weekend – and along with a banana or apple slices, you are out the door in no time. If you have a few moments, I also like to toast some bread, cover with peanut butter, and then top with either banana or apple slices and honey. Another favorite is to use peanut butter in place of butter and syrup on pancakes and waffles! (Hint – make a large batch of either on the weekends and store extras in the fridge or freezer. Very convenient for the morning!!)
  • Protein bars and powders are also fine to use when needed. However, I am not fond of relying on those and would prefer that we all eat whole, “real” foods instead as much as possible!

Now certainly what I mentioned above is not sufficient as your entire breakfast – i.e. – an ounce of almonds doesn’t even contain 180 calories. However, they are good to grab on the run in order to better round out the traditional toast, cereal, smoothie, etc you normally have. Another suggestion is to store food at your office. Then you can grab one of the protein foods mentioned above to tide you over on the commute and then sit down for your bowl of oatmeal or turkey bagel sandwich while starting your work day.

What are your “grab and go” protein-rich breakfast items of choice?

NOTE: Protein content of foods obtained from the USDA Nutrient Database and product Nutrition Facts labels.


5 thoughts on “Protein-Containing Breakfast Ideas

  1. Allison Knott, RD says:

    I have recently started eating sunflower seed butter to mix things up a bit. I use it the same as I would peanut butter or almond butter. Also, I really enjoy smoked salmon on a whole wheat English muffin with low-fat cream cheese and avocado. Great little sandwich to eat on the way to work!

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