Fuel your weight loss efforts with these nutritionist-approved morning meals.
For years you've been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But that advice should come with a disclaimer: Eating three eggs is not the same as eating a donut, even if the calories are the same.
In other words, the benefits of that first meal depend on your food selection. And if you’re trying to lose weight, selecting a protein-packed meal is key.
While eating protein at any time of day can help you feel fuller longer, control blood sugar levels, and build metabolism-revving muscle, research shows added benefits to putting back protein in the morning.
One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate a high-protein breakfast (35 grams of protein) felt more satiated and ate fewer high-fat snacks later in the day compared to those who skipped breakfast.
And contrary to popular belief, preparing a healthy, high-protein breakfast doesn't have to be horribly inconvenient. These seven simple recipes are proof.
1. Open-Faced Breakfast Sandwich
With roughly 30 grams of protein, this sandwich is infinitely more satisfying than any breakfast sandwich that you can get at the drive-thru, says Indiana-based dietitian Kristin Hullet, R.D.
- 1 piece Ezekiel bread
- 3 eggs
- 1 piece turkey sausage
- 1 slice cheese
- 1½ tablespoons hemp seeds
What to do: Toast the bread, scramble the eggs, and microwave the turkey sausage. Layer the cheese, sausage, and eggs onto the toast, and top with hemp seeds.
2. Overnight Oats
Most people think of oats as being full of carbs, carbs, and more carbs. But they're actually a pretty good source of protein, says Stacey Wiseman, R.D., a registered dietitian at Five Star Senior Living. Her advice: Prepare them with milk instead of water. This simple recipe contains roughly 25 grams of protein.
- ¾ cup dry steel-cut oats
- 1¼ cup skim milk
- 1 small apple
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon honey
What to do: Combine the oats and milk in a small container, and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning, chop up the apple. Mix apple and walnuts into the oats. Add cinnamon and honey to taste. Eat cold, or heat up in the microwave.
3. Burrito Bowl
This savory breakfast delivers nearly 30 grams of meatless protein along with loads of filling fiber and whole, energy-revving carbs, says Giesla Potter, R.D., a registered dietitian at Indiana University Health. If you're vegan, simply skip the cheese. You'll still score 20-plus grams of protein.
- ⅓ cup dry quinoa
- ½ cup low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup shredded cheese
- ⅓ avocado, diced
- ¼ cup salsa
What to do: Cook the quinoa on the stove in ⅔ cup water. Layer quinoa, beans, cheese, avocado, and salsa in a bowl.
4. Egg Quinoa Muffin Bites
These muffins contain broccoli florets, mushrooms, and onions for extra vitamins and minerals, says New York City-based dietitian Michael Perkins, R.D.N. You'll get roughly 12 muffins from each batch, perfect for make-ahead breakfasts. Each muffin contains only 95 calories, but eight grams of protein. Feel free to eat seconds-or even thirds.
- ⅓ cup dry quinoa
- 6 eggs
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ small onion, chopped
- ½ cup mushrooms, chopped
- ½ cup broccoli florets, chopped
- ¾ cup + ¼ mozzarella cheese, divided
What to do: Cook the quinoa on the stove in ⅔ cup water. Whisk together eggs, salt, and pepper. Mix in quinoa, veggies, and ¾ cup cheese. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, and spoon the mixture into the tin. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, and bake for another five minutes. Remove from oven.
5. Greek Yogurt Parfait
Greek yogurt is an amazingly simple source of protein, perfect for those mornings when you just don't have time to cook, Potter says. The next time you find yourself eating breakfast on the go, dig a spoon into this easy parfait that offers 25 grams of filling protein.
- 1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
- ½ cup berries
- ¼ cup granola
What to do: Layer in a bowl or tall cup, and enjoy!
6. Green Smoothie
We'd be remiss not to include a smoothie here. After all, they are the epitome of easy grab-and-go breakfasts. This yummy version, courtesy of Potter, packs 30 grams of protein.
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1 small frozen banana
- 1 tablespoon chia or flaxseeds
What to do: Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until creamy.
7. Avocado Toast with Cottage Cheese and Tomatoes
With loads of protein, calcium, and vitamin B12, cottage cheese gives avocado toast a serious upgrade, Wiseman says. You'll score 31 grams of protein in two slices.
- 2 slices Ezekiel Bread
- ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
- ½ avocado, sliced
- 1 tomato, sliced
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
What to do: Toast the bread, and spread each slice with cottage cheese. Top with avocado and tomato, and sprinkle with pepper.
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