Chances are, you've heard the whole "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" mantra one too many times before. What's often left out, though, is the fact that not all breakfasts are equal, at least when it comes to nutrition. Yes, eating something for breakfast is better than nothing, but what you should be eating is an entirely different breakfast ball game.
Obviously you want your breakfast to be delicious, but above all, you want a meal that will keep you full. No matter if you're trying to lose weight or just make it until lunch, a filling breakfast is the best breakfast, and for that you need to ensure your body is ingesting a lot of protein.
Yes, protein is the secret to a appetite-curbing breakfast, in both sexes. Women aged 18-55 were found to experience less hunger after eating a protein-filled morning meal (in opposition to a carb-heavy breakfast), with the similar studies demonstrating the same phenomenon in men.
Protein's effect on hunger even goes well beyond mornings. The need to eat a late-night meal was suppressed when men ingested high amounts of protein for breakfast, a direct result of the "full" feeling protein creates.
Before anyone gets a little wary, it's important to note a "high protein" breakfast doesn't mean a full carton of eggs and half a ham. As little as a 3-4 ounce portion of lean protein has been demonstrated to affect one's appetite, meaning you only need to sub in one or two protein-filled food items into your morning meal to ensure you stay full for longer.
With that that in mind, and to keep you from constantly snacking throughout the day, or even worse, become starved by lunchtime (which can lead to overeating) here are a few protein-rich breakfast foods that will help you keep your appetite in check.
Cheesy Scrambled Eggs
Eggs are pretty much the poster child for protein, especially when it comes to breakfast. And for good reason, given that a single large egg contains 6 grams of protein and only counts in at 78 calories. Scientific studies have even demonstrated how beneficial an egg-filled breakfast can be for weight loss, when combined with a stricter diet, of course.
Fortunately, you don't need to eat hard boiled eggs to enjoy the protein and other health benefits of eggs. Amazingly, cheese actually makes eggs even more nutritious, as the calcium in fromage aiding the body in absorbing the vitamin D in eggs. So go a head and enjoy some cheesy scrambled eggs (or an omelette) and feel good about your breakfast, without sacrificing too much flavour.
A food-fad for a reason, Greek yogurt has become a household name thanks to its delicious flavour and incredibly high protein count. Just a small 170g container (those little plastic cups) of GY boasts a full 17 grams of protein for only 100 calories. Better yet, your body will benefit even futher from all the probiotic bacteria found in GY, along with all the calcium.
What you need to watch out for is the kind of Greek yogurt you buy. Flavoured varieties can have triple the amount of sugar in comparison to plain Greek yogurt. Your best bet is to go plain, then add some fresh fruit or a bit of honey to add flavour, along with a quick energy boost that will be complimented by the protein your getting, which takes your body longer to process.
Smoothies: Whey Protein & Wheat Germ
A basic fruit smoothie has next to nothing when it comes to protein, but that's where whey powder comes in. Don't forsake whey protein powders to the domain of douchy bros, because the stuff has some real health benefits, clocking in at 20 grams of protein for a single 100 calorie scoop, though those figures can change depending on the brand.
Less popular than whey, however, is wheat germ, which has a legit amount of protein too. Comprised of endosperm, bran, and germ, wheat germ is a plant-based protein that boasts plenty of nutrients, along with 6 grams of protein per 1 oz. serving.
So the next time your whip up a smoothie, throw half a scoop of whey and some wheat germ in for a vitamin, nutrient, and protein power punch breakfast that you can enjoy on the go.
Milk > Juice
There's absolutely nothing wrong with having some juice in the morning, but chances are, if you're enjoying a glass of Tropicana or other store-bought brands, the vitamins your body is getting is somewhat outshined by all of the added sugars.
Go for a class of milk instead, which contains enough carbs to give you some energy, along with a good dose of protein too. A cup of both skim, 2% or soy milk affords a solid 8 grams of protein per 1 cup serving. Cow milk also has the benefit of having vitamin D, while soy-milk drinkers should be wary of any sweetened brands that load up on sugar.
Best of all, you can pair milk with another breakfast food, namely cereal, aka the best thing ever. You need to watch out for high-sugar cereals, of course, and anyone in a super huge rush in the morning will do very well with just having a glass of milk with a piece of fruit (and not a cookie like in the image above).
Yes, the texture of cottage cheese can be a little weird, but the curdled dairy product is a complete beast when it comes to protein, with a whopping 14 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving. Oh, and that 1/2 cup will only cost you 90 calories (in 1% fat varieties) giving you plenty of room to get a bit indulgent and add some honey or fruits.
What makes cottage cheese such an especially good breakfast option is its abundance of casein protein, which takes a while to digest (thus making you less hungry later) while also giving your muscles an ongoing supply of amino acids. Be warned, though, that certain brands can be crazy high in sodium, so check your labels before you buy a certain type.
My love affair with peanut butter knows no bounds, so I'm quite happy to report the classically delicious nut butter is also a protein-beast. Note, however, that I'm talking about all-natural peanut butter, not that added sugar and fat Kraft-style stuff. The latter may be delicious, but it definitely isn't that good for you, as things tend to go when it comes to food.
Two tablespoons of peanut butter will give you a solid 8 grams of protein for 190 calories, making PB pretty darn caloric. When it comes to breakfast, PB is great to add in with things for a protein injection, like oatmeal or an apple, with the latter's fiber and water content adding to the filling effects of protein.
Or, if you're like me, just go to town with a couple of straight-from-jar-to-mouth spoonfuls in the morning. Your mouth may be a little sticky for a while, but it's the morning, you're not in a good enough mood to converse with anyone anyway.
Photo cred - T.Tseng
Popular among health food junkies, chia seeds are definitely a food item you should bring into your breakfast repertoire. Boasting 4 grams of protein for single 137 calorie 1 ounce serving, chia seeds don't seem like the best food to keep you full for a while, but that's before you take the inherent fibre into account. Chia seeds have 11 grams of fiber per serving, which is a lot , which will definitely keep your stomach satisfied.
A solid breakfast idea for chia seeds is to make a chia seed pudding, which is pretty damn simple. Just add in a bit of milk (preferably soy or cow for added protein) or yogurt the night before, let it rest overnight, and in the morn you'll have a protein-rich breakfast ready to go.
Photo cred - stu_spivack
Oh bacon, you may leave our mouths but you'll forever be in our hearts. Now, while I would love to tell you that standard bacon is so high in protein you can forget about the fat, sodium, and calorie content, that'd be a straight up lie. What I can do is offer you a bacon alternative, namely peameal (aka Canadian) bacon.
Peameal bacon comes from the leaner part of the pig, and has less fat than regular bacon by a factor of six. In numbers, a 3 oz. portion of peameal bacon will give you a solid 15 grams of protein for about 150 calories, which definitely isn't a bad ratio. Make sure not to go too crazy with the portion, and peameal bacon can make for a fairly healthy and protein-rich breakfast.
Photo cred - Laura Tou
Going against the entire "eat protein for breakfast" thesis of the this article is my decision to include water. Now, why would I add in ol' H2O even though it contains zero protein? Well, that's because life giving water will actually make you experience less hunger, without adding in any calories to your diet.
More often than you might think, hunger is mistaken for thirst, with dehydration creating an effect similar to what you experience when hungry. Water, being water, fixes that problem entirely, meaning you'll be able to fight sudden cravings easier. Also, simply by drinking water regularly, your stomach will be constantly filled, decreasing hunger levels overall.
Generally, you should be drinking a full glass of water before every meal, as it can help you ensure you don't overeat. That goes double in the morning when your body has expelled all liquids (that's why you go pee in the morning) and needs some H2O. Pair a glass of water with anything else on this list, and you're on your way to being full all the way 'til lunch time.