Eating optimal amounts of the “right” protein at your first meal is one of the best ways to help jump-start weight loss and promote healthy behaviors all day long.
Here’s why: Protein at breakfast has been shown to help reduce hunger and appetite, boost metabolism, provide lasting energy, conquer cravings for carbs, and help build and maintain muscle mass.
My breakfast MVPs—most valuable proteins—to help set you up for weight loss success are eggs, low-fat yogurt, milk (cow’s milk and some plant-based varieties), and cottage cheese. Since these foods tend to be breakfast favorites already, adding more protein early in your day may be one of the easiest ways to lose weight.
Here’s what the science says: One study reported in the International Journal of Obesity discovered that participants who ate an egg breakfast compared to a bagel breakfast lost 65% more weight and saw a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference. Another study discovered that when women doubled their daily protein intake from 15% of their daily calorie intake to 30%, they consumed an average of 441 fewer calories per day—and shed an average of about 11 pounds over the course of 12 weeks.
Ready to rev your metabolism before your first morning meeting? Below is a week’s worth of protein-packed breakfasts with at least 20 grams protein and fewer than 400 calories to help keep your appetite and daily calories in check.
Egg and veggie scramble
Eggs are the gold standard for high-quality protein, with 6 grams of protein per large egg. Several studies show that an egg-based breakfast—compared to a carb-rich first meal—helps reduce overall daily calories, keeps you fuller longer, and reduces cravings for carbs.
Make a satisfying and balanced morning meal with one whole egg plus two egg whites scrambled with your favorite veggies (like mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and spinach or arugula) with a toasted whole-grain English muffin.
Cottage cheese and fruit parfait
Cottage cheese is one of the best sources of leucine, the amino acid that helps build and maintain muscle mass. Enjoy a cup of low-fat cottage cheese with one cup fresh berries, pineapple, or pear slices and top with a sprinkle of chopped nuts or granola for texture.
Blend one cup pea or soy protein non-dairy milk, one banana, one tablespoon vanilla or chocolate protein powder, and one tablespoon of chia seeds until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
Breakfast egg, ham, and veggie burrito
Scramble two whole eggs and one egg white with one slice of Canadian bacon, chopped. Add chopped spinach, chopped bell pepper, and salsa. Serve in a six-inch corn or whole-grain tortilla.
Yogurt, oat, and berry breakfast bowl
Greek yogurt has a great protein-to-calorie ratio, making it an ally when trying to tone up. Whole grain oats provide up to 5 grams of protein per cup, and the fiber in oats helps trigger feelings of fullness.
Try one cup cooked oatmeal topped with ¾ cup nonfat or low-fat plain Greek yogurt with one cup fresh or frozen (no added sugar) berries.
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