What’s your go-to breakfast option? Maybe it’s a doughnut or other sweet pastry. Puffed colorful cereal with milk? Or perhaps you’re someone who opts for nothing at all.
Research continues to support that having a meal within 1 to 2 hours of getting up from sleep is a healthy habit with many benefits including less snacking at night, better weight control, and increased focus on mental tasks compared to breakfast skippers.
But let’s face it- that sugary pastry is never going to stick with you until lunch. And that raging physical hunger from a poor choice or skipping all together? You’re probably not going to make a healthy choice at lunch. You may catch yourself tossing in the towel, ordering a greasy burger and fries and vowing to do better tomorrow.
Newer research continues to support having breakfast, but several studies have shown promising results on both appetite, weight loss, and eating habits when 20 to 30 grams of protein are included as part of that healthy breakfast. Protein does not turn into blood sugar until about 1.5 hours after you’ve eaten it, offering a more long lasting energy source than just carbohydrates alone.
These are a few combinations below which equal 20 to 30 grams of lean protein:
· 3 to 4 eggs or 6 to 8 egg whites would provide 21 to 28 grams protein. Everything has protein though (Fruits only have a tiny amount) so pairing the eggs with veggies or whole grain toast would also contribute protein without getting it all just from eggs.
· 8 oz of low fat Greek yogurt equals 20 to 22 grams (many small cartons are only 5 to 6 ounces). Pair with 1 cup of seasonal berries and 2 tablespoons chopped nuts or flavored pumpkin seeds.
· Four to 4.5 ounces of any meat or fish would provide 28 to 31.5 grams of protein. What differs is that a chicken breast with 4.5 ounces meat would provide 210 calories while the same amount of steak, depending on the fat marbling, may offer up 310 calories.
· Peanut butter or other nut butters are actually fats that contain protein. To reach 30 grams of protein from just peanut butter or any other nut butter you’d need to eat a whopping 8 Tablespoons! You’d use up a big chunk of your calorie budget with 840 calories worth of nut butter! Although you may not reach the protein goal with only a tablespoon of peanut butter the high fat content may help you feel just as full when paired with a banana or whole grain waffle.
· If you’re a cereal fan consider having less cereal and a small amount of protein with it. Some turkey sausage links have 10 grams of protein per serving. Choose low sodium if you have heart disease.
· For vegetarian options consider hummus, tofu in your smoothie, or other bean recipes for a protein addition to the morning.
If you’re not used to eating within several hours of getting up a liquid breakfast like a shake containing protein or a Greek yogurt is a good way to start training your stomach to tolerate food.
Looking to prep ahead for the week? Try this tasty, low carb and high protein egg breakfast recipe.
Egg Cups- Makes 12 muffins
Ingredients: 12 eggs or 1 carton egg beaters
· Splash of milk
· Vegetables of your choice to add to egg mixture—recipe analyzed with 2 cups chopped, raw baby spinach and ½ to 1 chopped red pepper
· (can use fresh chopped salsa, or other vegetables instead like mushrooms, onions or broccoli)
· Salt and Pepper, to taste
Heat your oven to 375F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray REALLY WELL (these will stick!). Beat eggs and add the splash of milk. Season with pepper and salt if desired. Put vegetables into each muffin cup. Then pour the egg mixture on top of vegetables equally among the muffin cups. Bake for about 20-23 minutes, or until the egg cups are well set. If a tester/toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean they’re done! Keep in a closed container in the refrigerator. To freeze egg cups, let cool completely then wrap each egg cup individually in plastic wrap and place in large container or freezer bag. Freeze up to one month. Reheat each cup in the microwave. Remove from the plastic wrap before placing in microwave! Three egg cups will normally heat to the right temperature in less than 1 minute.
The nutrition facts are using eggs, chopped raw spinach leaves and red pepper with no cheese. Each egg cup is 75 calories, 1 gm carb, 6 grams protein, 5 grams fat. A small amount of shredded cheese can be melted on top when microwaved.