Protein is a hot topic in the media and among RDs. While consumers seem to think that more protein is better, we know that most Americans exceed the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein. However, research has shown that a minimum of 20 g of protein is recommended at breakfast to prevent sarcopenia as we age. From my experience in private practice for 20-plus years, most people have no problem meeting and exceeding protein needs at lunch and dinner, but they struggle to consume an adequate amount at breakfast to promote muscle protein synthesis.
Here are five out-of-the-box ways to help clients boost protein intake at breakfast.
1. Mix protein powder into cereal and oatmeal.
Whisk 2 to 3 tablespoons of either whey, collagen, or plant-based protein powder into 3/4 to 1 cup of your milk of choice and pour it over your favorite cereal. Alternate the powder flavors for more interest, using varieties such as vanilla, chocolate, coconut, strawberry, matcha, blueberry, and more. Top with fruit and nuts for a fiber and nutrient boost.
2. Incorporate Greek yogurt into your French toast batter.
Instead of coating French toast in eggs and milk, mix together two eggs and a 5.3-oz container of vanilla Greek yogurt to dip the bread into. Each slice contains significantly more protein, approximately 10 g, than a typical recipe. Top with more Greek yogurt and fruit to maximize protein and minimize the need for added sugars from syrup.
3. Add cottage cheese to smoothies.
While not a conventional smoothie ingredient, cottage cheese is a fabulous addition to smoothies and bowls for several reasons. A 1/2-cup serving will provide anywhere from 10 to 16 g protein, plus the creamy texture yields a delicious product. While many smoothie recipes include plain Greek yogurt, it contributes a tart flavor. By swapping it for cottage cheese you can cut down or eliminate the need for added sweeteners.
4. Make breakfast ice cream with … tofu.
Why not eat ice cream for breakfast when it’s loaded with protein and fiber? Blend a frozen banana with a few ounces of firm tofu, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1/4 cup powdered peanut butter. Top with chocolate chips and chopped peanuts for a guilt-free breakfast treat that packs 22 g plant-based protein.
5. Boost your recipes with powdered peanut butter.
This versatile ingredient provides 6 g protein and only 50 kcal per 2-tablespoon serving. Stir some into oatmeal, Greek yogurt, or smoothies. Reconstitute the powder with water or your favorite milk and spread on whole grain toast or a high-protein wrap topped with strawberries or banana slices.
Do you have any additional innovative ways for clients to boost protein in their breakfast? Please share in the comments below. Rise and shine!
— Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, is a nutrition communications specialist, speaker, spokesperson, private practice owner, and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. Lauren blogs at www.NutritionStarringYOU.com, where she specializes in weight management and prediabetes.