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10 High-Protein Breakfast Ideas

Protein is essential to any diet, but it’s even more important for active people who work out regularly. Fortunately, eggs aren’t the only option! There are plenty of creative and delicious ways to get adequate protein at breakfast, and these high-protein breakfast ideas will get you started.

What is a good breakfast for an active person?

Cyclists on top of the trail looking down on the ocean with her arms up - early in the morning watching the sun rise.

If you’re an active person who works out regularly, you’ll need balanced breakfasts to give you steady energy throughout the day. A healthy, balanced breakfast consists of the following:

  • Lean protein to help rebuild muscle fibers and keep you satiated
  • Carbohydrates for energy
  • Healthy fats to help the body absorb vitamins A, D, and E
  • Vitamins and minerals for overall wellness

As an active adult, you’ll want to build your meals from these food groups. And if you do, you’ll always have a well-balanced meal that will help carry you through the day and provide long-lasting energy.

Why is it important to eat a high-protein breakfast?

A woman eating oatmeal with an orange next to her while in her kitchen.

While grabbing a quick bowl of cereal or a fruit-heavy smoothie is definitely easier than cooking a protein-packed breakfast, it won’t provide the same benefits. When you focus on getting an adequate amount of protein in the morning, it will help you in the following ways:

  • Feel fuller: Protein triggers the release of hormones that reduce your appetite. So if you can eat breakfast and still be starving by 10 a.m., a protein-packed meal first thing in the morning is a great way to stay full until lunch. And if you feel more satiated, that also translates to eating less throughout the day because you won’t need to snack as often.
  • Gives you long-lasting energy: To stay active, you need energy! Although carbohydrates are an excellent energy source, protein reaches your bloodstream slower, providing a steady and stable energy source for your body.
  • Lowers blood pressure: Research indicates people who eat a wide variety of protein sources may have a lower risk of high blood pressure.1 Varying your protein with well-balanced breakfasts is easier than you might think and could look like incorporating options like whole grains, legumes, eggs, poultry, fish, and red meat into your breakfast routine.
  • Promotes healthy aging: Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet, but it becomes even more vital as you age. It helps you stay strong and active by maintaining strong muscles and bones, protects against infections, and can also help you recover from injuries or surgeries faster.2
  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight or shed pounds: Whether you’re trying to lose weight or maintain, protein-packed breakfasts will help you reach your goals. One 2022 study in the journal Obesity found that people who regularly consumed more protein made better food choices, like eating fewer refined grains and added sugar and choosing more green vegetables.3
  • Improves alertness and energy: Eating a high-protein breakfast increases tyrosine levels in your brain, which is an essential component for producing neurotransmitters (natural brain chemicals) like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which influence mood and energy.4 Protein also helps slow down the digestion and absorption of carbs, which will help give you energy.
  • Stabilizes blood sugar: Since it takes longer for your body to digest and absorb protein, it helps control blood sugar.

How much protein should I eat at breakfast?

Two men in a kitchen making breakfast before their workout.

Researchers and nutritionists agree that the ideal amount of protein at breakfast ranges from 15 to 30 grams.5 However, the exact amount of protein you need at breakfast should be based on your body weight. A nutritionist or personal trainer can help you identify a healthy amount for you.

10 High-protein breakfast ideas for runners and cyclists

A woman in her kitchen surrounded by healthy foods while she is in mid-bite with toast in her mouth.

When you’re aiming for protein, it’s easy to get into a breakfast rut with protein-packed eggs. Fortunately, there are plenty of other great high-protein breakfast ideas for active adults. Here are ten of our favorite protein-packed ideas to get you started:

1. Fruit and mixed nut yogurt parfait 

If you love fruit for breakfast, you don’t have to give that up to prioritize protein! This delicious fruit parfait has a whopping 22 grams of protein, for a sweet and healthy breakfast staple. Top it with whatever nuts or seeds you want to customize and make it your own.

Get the recipe: prevention.com

2. Breakfast nachos 

Surprised to see the words “breakfast” and “nachos” in the same sentence? We are too. But we’re here to tell you that this is a too-good-to-be-true healthy and high-protein breakfast option. And it’s gluten-free! With 17.2 grams of protein, these nachos are topped with a colorful array of veggies and offer a mouthwatering flavor you won’t believe.

Get the recipe: foodfaithfitness.com

3. Pumpkin protein pancakes 

When it comes to breakfast, pancakes are a must. These mouthwatering pancakes contain 22 grams of protein and are made with whole ingredients like eggs, greek yogurt, canned pumpkin, and whole wheat flour.

Get the recipe: self.com

4. Blueberry lemon ricotta pancakes 

These are some incredibly moist and protein-hearty pancakes made with yogurt and cottage cheese! This recipe also replaces syrup with a delicious and healthy blueberry compote, adding extra flavor and nutrition to this incredible breakfast option.

Get the recipe: eatthis.com

5. Greek tomato feta and egg scramble 

Want to try something different? This light Greek-inspired breakfast dish is made with four healthy and simple ingredients: eggs, tomatoes, feta cheese, and olive oil. Say goodbye to that bland omelet you thought was your only option!

Get the recipe: mygreekdish.com

6. Cowboy breakfast bowl 

If you’re in a breakfast rut, spice things up with this protein-heavy breakfast bowl. It’s an excellent way to start any day and boasts a delicious myriad of flavors, from potatoes, bacon, green onion, cheese, eggs, and avocado. Top it with your favorite salsa or hot sauce, and you’ll be in heaven.

Get the recipe: delish.com

7. Apple pie overnight oats 

There’s nothing better than a sweet treat for breakfast that still provides 20 grams of protein. Packed with warm spices, sauteed apples, and your favorite vanilla protein powder, you can easily make this breakfast the night before for a delicious and nutritious meal.

Get the recipe: franceslargemanroth.com

8. Salmon and vegetable hash with a fried egg 

Prefer a savory breakfast option? This salmon and veggie hash has everything you could ever want. In addition to packing 37 grams of protein, this breakfast option is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12.

Get the recipe: prevention.com

9. Oatmeal protein cookies 

Here is your excuse to eat cookies for breakfast. These oatmeal protein cookies are easy to make, vegan, and gluten-free. And they have 16 grams of protein. With just eight ingredients, including rolled oats, ground flaxseed, maple syrup, chia seeds, bananas, peanut butter, vanilla extract, and cinnamon, you’ll want to make this breakfast again and again.

Get the recipe: theoregondietician.com

10. Cinnamon quinoa breakfast bowl 

Switch things up with this refreshing and satisfying breakfast dish. This delicious quinoa breakfast bowl features fresh fruit, toasted nuts, and warm spices, packing a nutritious punch and providing long-lasting energy to fuel your morning. Switch things up by customizing your spices—nutmeg, cardamom, and vanilla bean would all be great!

Get the recipe: loveandlemons.com

Tip: Try these homemade healthy snack options to stay satiated until dinner. 

What are the best high-protein breakfast foods to have on hand?

Two people on their carpet with healthy foods in front of them smiling.

If you need to throw something together in a pinch, the following high-protein breakfast staples can help you create something tasty and healthy fast:

  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Oats
  • Turkey or chicken sausage
  • Smoked salmon
  • Tofu
  • Nuts
  • Nut butter
  • Spinach
  • Kale 
  • Black beans
  • Chia seeds
  • Your favorite protein powder

What breakfast foods will make you tired and sluggish?

A female runner bent over tired.

If you want to prevent the dreaded mid-morning or afternoon slump, avoid these breakfast foods, which will make you feel sluggish and tired:

  • Sugary and heavily processed foods, like toaster pastries, sweetened yogurt, breakfast bars, donuts, etc.
  • White bread
  • Baked goods like coffee cakes and muffins
  • High-caffeine drinks

Key Takeaways:

Active people like runners and cyclists should eat around 15 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast to fuel their workouts and stay energized throughout the day. There are plenty of creative ways to get the proper nutrition at breakfast, and these ten tasty ideas will help you start off on the right foot.

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Sources:

  1. Zhou, C., Wu, Q., Ye, Z., Liu, M., Zhang, Z., Zhang, Y., Li, H., He, P., Li, Q., Liu, C., & Qin, X. (2022). Inverse Association Between Variety of Proteins With Appropriate Quantity From Different Food Sources and New-Onset Hypertension. Hypertension, 79(5), 1017–1027. https://doi.org/10.1161/hypertensionaha.121.18222 
  2. Dietary Proteins. (n.d.). https://medlineplus.gov/dietaryproteins.html 
  3. Ogilvie, A. R., Schlussel, Y., Sukumar, D., Meng, L., & Shapses, S. A. (2022). Higher protein intake during caloric restriction improves diet quality and attenuates loss of lean body mass. Obesity, 30(7), 1411–1419. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.23428 
  4. Appleby, M. (2018, December 27). What Are the Benefits of Lots of Protein in the Morning? Healthy Eating | SF Gate. https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-lots-protein-morning-3574.html 
  5. Gwin, J. A., & Leidy, H. J. (2018). A Review of the Evidence Surrounding the Effects of Breakfast Consumption on Mechanisms of Weight Management. Advances in Nutrition, 9(6), 717–725. https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmy047 

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