Protein isn’t just for bodybuilders anymore. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that overweight adults who ate a high-protein breakfast comprised of 350 calories and 35 grams of protein (about what you’d find in five eggs) consumed 26 percent fewer calories at lunch than their counterparts who consumed a calorically identical meal with less protein. Although getting 35 grams of protein can be tough, you can still reap many of the same weight loss benefits by hitting the 20-gram mark.
What kind of benefits are you looking at? For starters, protein is filling. As it digests into amino acids, one of its building blocks (phenylalanine) triggers the increase in levels of the gut hormone peptide YY, which then sends a signal to the brain that you’ve eaten your fill, according to research presented at the 2016 Society for Endocrinology conference. That’s not all; protein also slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, which helps keep blood sugar levels even keeled. Not only does this reduce hunger, but it also it wards off fat storage to help you get toned.
So, what are you waiting for? Read on to discover nearly three weeks worth of mouthwatering meals that deliver exactly what your body needs for breakfast. Combine that with these best-ever ways to boost your metabolism and you’ll reach your body goals in no time!
BERRY CINNAMON GREEK YOGURT PARFAIT
Protein Punch: 27 grams
You’ll Need: Fage 2% yogurt, berries, walnuts, cinnamon, honey
In a bowl, combine 7-ounces of Fage 2% yogurt with half a cup berries and an ounce of chopped walnuts. Top the parfait with a dusting of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey to complete this mighty muscle-building breakfast.
BLACK BEAN SOUTHWEST OMELET
Protein Payout: 28 g
You’ll Need: Eggs, black beans, red pepper, red onion, spinach, cheddar cheese, salsa
Crack and whisk two whole eggs and one egg white into a bowl. Add a handful of diced red pepper and red onion into a nonstick pan with a pad of butter. Cook for two minutes and then add a handful of spinach. Once the spinach has wilted, pour the egg mixture directly on top of the filling. When the surface of the eggs begins to dry, add 3 tablespoons black beans and shredded cheddar cheese (two of the 26 foods with more protein than an egg). Cover with lid until cheese melts and no egg liquids remain. Fold the omelet in half and serve immediately with a small scoop of salsa. To reap the most flab-incinerating benefits, be sure to consume the entire egg—not just the whites. The yellow is filled with choline, a nutrient that been proven to reduce body fat and BMI.
PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY PROTEIN SHAKE
Protein Punch: 26 grams
You’ll Need: Frozen mixed berries, natural peanut butter, flax seeds, 2% Greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, Kashi plant-based vanilla protein powder
Yep, you can have your favorite childhood sandwich without the bread! This satiating smoothie is a great on-the-go breakfast option that packs a powerful punch of protein, fiber, essential fats, and vital nutrients that support good health. Not to mention, berries are one of the best sources of polyphenols—a group of fat-blocking compounds. Here’s your game plan: In a blender, combine ½ cup unsweetened milk, one cup frozen berries, 1 tablespoon peanut butter (we like Smucker’s Natural Creamy PB), 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt, and half a scoop of protein powder. Blend until smooth. No time to whip out the blender? Stock up on some of these grab-and-go protein shakes so you’ll always have something slimming to sip in a pinch.
BREAKFAST PIZZA ON ENGLISH MUFFINS
Protein Punch: 34 grams
You’ll Need: Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain English muffin, chorizo sausage, egg, onion, salsa
Spoon 2 tablespoons tomato salsa on top of each toasted English muffin half. Sprinkle half an ounce of cheddar cheese on each pizza, and then top with a crumbled, cooked link of chorizo and sliced onions. Bake in a 350-degree toaster oven for 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Top with an over-easy fried egg.
BREAKFAST BENTO BOX
Protein Punch: 25 grams
You’ll Need: 2 hard boiled eggs, 1 slice Dave’s Killer Thin-Sliced Powerseed Bread, with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter, 1 oz string cheese, and grapes
If you don’t like to eat first thing in the morning, a bento box is a great option. It allows you to graze through the early hours and offers up a solid dose of energy. Simply pack up two hard boiled eggs, string cheese (one of these high protein snacks), swipe a tablespoon of peanut butter on a slice of bread, and a half-cup of grapes to hit the nutritional mark.
PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIE
Protein Punch: 32 grams
You’ll Need: 2% milk, vanilla protein powder, pureed pumpkin, frozen banana, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Skip the pumpkin spice latte and whip up this filling smoothie instead. In a blender, combine 1 cup of 2% milk with a scoop of vanilla protein powder, ¾ cup of pureed pumpkin, a frozen banana, one tablespoon of walnuts, and one heaping teaspoon of a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Combine until smooth.
TOAST AND LOX
Protein Punch: 24 grams
You’ll Need: Ezekiel bread, Greek yogurt, smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, scallions
Instead of scarfing down a 400-calorie bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, switch to a slice of protein-filled Ezekiel Bread that’s smothered with an ounce of Greek yogurt blended with finely sliced scallions, and top it off a layer of cherry tomatoes and 3 ounces of lox (i.e. smoked salmon). This simple yet tasty combo will give you 24 grams of protein for a fraction of the calories! It doesn’t get much better than that.
LEMONY RICOTTA PANCAKES
Protein Punch: 24 grams
You’ll Need: Eggs, oat flour, ricotta cheese, vanilla extract, baking powder, lemon, milk, salt
If you’re looking to inject a protein boost into your pancakes without the chalky taste of protein powder, this recipe is for you. Rather than adding protein powder, you use an Italian cheese called ricotta and high-protein oat flour. Rather than feeling too heavy, these pancakes are brightened up with the tart addition of lemon zest. Using an electric mixer or hand whisk, whip 7 egg whites to stiff peaks. In a separate large bowl, combine 2 ¾ cups ricotta, 1 ½ cups milk, 6 egg yolks, and the zest of one lemon. In a medium mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients: 2 cups oat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add these dry ingredients to the wet, then fold in whites. Dole out batter onto a buttered griddle and cook until golden. This recipe makes 6 servings.
SAVORY OATMEAL BOWL
Protein Punch: 26 grams
You’ll Need: Bacon, onion, steel cut oats, cheddar cheese, egg
This savory oatmeal is a makeover of the classic BEC. Start by sauteeing up diced, thick bacon. Once crispy, remove bacon and drain off fat. Add diced onion to the pan and cook until translucent. Add a quarter cup of steel cut oats, toast, and then add a cup of water. Allow to simmer until the oats have absorbed all the water (about 15 minutes.) When cooked, add back the bacon and top with cheese and a fried egg. With the magical energy-boosting trio of protein, fat, and fiber, consider adding this dish to your breakfast routine to keep your hunger pangs at bay all morning long.
AVOCADO TOAST WITH COTTAGE CHEESE AND TOMATOES
Protein Punch: 31 grams
You’ll Need: Ezekiel bread, low-fat cottage cheese, avocado, tomato, ground pepper
Made with protein-filled sprouted grain bread and cottage cheese, this meal provides as much of the muscle-builder as nearly four cups of milk! To prepare this savory dish, lay two toasted bread slices out on a plate, top each one with a quarter-cup of cottage cheese, and sprinkle with pepper. Top the cheese with a few slices of tomato and avocado (about a quarter of the fruit), and then season with another dusting of pepper.
CHORIZO, BEAN, AND EGG BREAKFAST BURRITO
Protein Punch: 23 grams
You’ll Need: Whole wheat flax tortilla, eggs, cheese, avocado, beans, chorizo, salsa
Make sure to grab a high fiber whole grain wrap, like those from Angelic Bakehouse. Their 7-Grain Sprouted Grain wraps are only 100 calories and boast 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Break apart one small chorizo sausage link out of its casing and into a nonstick pan. Once it’s cooked through, add a whisked egg and scramble. Once done to your liking, add the mixture to the wrap, along with an ounce of cheese, a tablespoon of beans, a couple avocado slices, and top it all off with a spoonful of salsa. Yum!
CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY QUINOA POWER BOWL
Protein Punch: 15 grams
You’ll Need: Quinoa, 2% milk, raw cacao powder, almonds, strawberry
Whoever said you have to eat meat to get your daily dose of protein? Quinoa is a small grain that’s mighty powerful on the protein front. It’s one of the few vegan-based superfoods that is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. To make this bowl, add a quarter cup of quinoa, half a cup of milk, and a tablespoon of cacao powder to a small pot and simmer for about 4 minutes. Pour into a bowl, top with sliced strawberries and half an ounce of almonds. The combo of chocolate and fruit means good news for your belly: Research shows that when the fiber in chocolate is paired with fruit, it is fermented by the healthy bacteria in your gut into fat-fighting compounds.
CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING
Protein Punch: 21 grams
You’ll Need: Chia seeds, cacao powder, 2% milk, Greek yogurt, maple syrup, vanilla extract, slivered almonds, blueberries
When you’re sick of plain yogurt, try chia pudding. The dish provides an easy, spoonable way to get tons of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. And did we mention there are a ton of different ways to flavor a basic recipe? It practically guarantees you’ll never tire your taste buds. To whip up a serving, combine 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, ¼ cup of cow’s milk, ½ cup Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon cacao powder, and a ⅛ teaspoon of vanilla in a jar with a lid. Cover the container, shake it up, and let it chill overnight. In the morning, top off the pudding with an ounce of slivered almonds and your choice of fruit (we’re partial to blueberries!).
PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA TOAST WITH CHIA SEEDS
Protein Punch: 22 grams
You’ll Need: Ezekiel toast, peanut butter, chia seeds, honey, banana
Elvis would be proud. Not only does peanut butter’s high protein content help you gain muscle mass, but eating the legume may also help boost your metabolism. To make our favorite sandwich, divide 3 tablespoons of peanut butter between two slices of toast. Top with sliced banana, a teaspoon of chia seeds, and lightly coat with honey. Eat it at home or take it on the go!
SPINACH, MUSHROOM, GOAT CHEESE & GRUYERE QUICHE
Protein Punch: 20 grams
You’ll Need: Pie crust, eggs, milk, spinach, yellow onion, baby bella mushrooms, goat cheese, gruyere cheese
By using two kinds of cheese that are listed among the Most Surprising Sources of Protein—gruyere and goat—combined with eggs, this quiche is everything except shy in its fat-burning properties. Whisk three eggs and three egg whites until frothy, then stir in a cup of milk, a cup of sauteed spinach, ½ cup sauteed onions, ¾ cup sauteed mushrooms, half a cup of shredded gruyere, and add dabs of goat cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Pour into a pre-baked crust. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until the eggs are completely set (a toothpick inserted into the middle will come out clean).
HIGH-PROTEIN CEREAL AND MILK
Protein Punch: 17 grams
You’ll Need: Kashi GoLean Vanilla Pepita cereal, 2% milk
Let’s say you did sit down to a bowl of low-sugar cereal every morning. Even if you’re noshing on a high-fiber cereal, you’re still not likely going to consume more than 10 grams of protein. However, if you swap out your sad cereal for Kashi’s GoLean clusters made with sorghum, red bean flakes, pea crisps, and pepitas, and add a cup of milk, you’ll get a high protein meal. Talk about an easy and healthy breakfast idea!
SAVORY CHICKPEA PANCAKES
Protein Punch: 20 grams
You’ll Need: Canned chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, yellow onion, rosemary, salt, mushrooms and asparagus
This Italian recipe eschews any sugar in place of a savory take on breakfast. You might call them pancakes, but the Italians call this recipe Farinata. Set your oven to 450 degrees. Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet with a tablespoon EVOO and half a diced onion to heat up. In a blender, blend a can of garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) with a pinch of salt. Once the pan is hot, pour chickpea batter directly into the pan on top of the onions (similar to what you’d do with a Dutch baby pancake). Sprinkle with rosemary and cook for about 10 minutes, turn the broiler on and toast the top for another 3 minutes. When it’s ready, serve with sauteed mushrooms and asparagus. One bite and you’ll be whipping up this high-protein breakfast every weekend.
TURTLE OVERNIGHT OATS
Protein Punch: 18 grams
You’ll Need: Greek yogurt, rolled oats, chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk, maple syrup, pecans, dark chocolate
Why should candy have all the fun? Here’s our take on a classic candy favorite: turtles. Combine ½ cup each of Greek yogurt, rolled oats and unsweetened almond milk in a large mason jar. Add a tablespoon of maple syrup and stir until smooth. Cover and chill overnight. When ready to eat, top with an ounce of chopped pecans, a couple squares of dark chocolate, and salty pretzels. Sweet and salty turtle not your thing? We have more options with these overnight oat recipes for weight loss.