18 high protein breakfasts to start your day strong

The benefits of getting enough protein in your diet are well known – you’ll feel fuller for longer and may even lose weight. You’ve likely heard that eating breakfast with protein helps keep your blood sugar full and stable. But you may not be sure if your current breakfast is cutting it. For a food or drink to be considered “high protein” it must contain 20% protein. For example, if your breakfast has 400 calories, that means it would need to provide 20 grams of protein to put it in the high protein category. It may seem difficult to get breakfast like this, but you can find them easily once you know what to look for.

Related: These high-protein, low-carb foods will fill you up on a low-carb diet and provide you with plant-based protein.


The perfect breakfast food, eggs not only contribute protein to your meal, but also provide essential nutrients, including choline for brain health and vitamin D for immunity. One medium egg contains 6 grams of protein in just 60 calories. And don’t skip the yolks! Almost half of the protein in an egg is in the yolk, as well as an array of nutrients, including immune-supporting vitamin B12 and zinc. Eggs are endlessly versatile and can be scrambled, poached, poached, fried, baked, and more. Even better, eggs provide the most budget-friendly form of animal protein.

Martha Stewart’s Perfect Hard Boiled Egg by Martha Stewart

Francis Largeman-Roth Mini Asparagus and Cheddar Cheese Fritatas, RDN

Perhaps the easiest way to make sure you get close to 20 grams of protein at breakfast is to have two eggs on your plate. Omelets are a great way to make sure that you not only get the benefits of protein, but also have the vegetables and fiber you need. A vegetable omelette with cheese, spinach, and broccoli provides 20 grams of protein, as well as about 2 grams of fiber.

Frances Largeman Roth’s Vegan Omelette with Cheese, Spinach and Cauliflower, RDN


Since Greek yogurt hit the market in the early 2000s, it’s become a protein seeker. You can top Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, granola, and a little honey or add it to smoothies for a boosting morning shake. One cup of 5.3 ounces of Greek yogurt will provide you with 11 grams of protein, plus at least 100 mg of bone-building calcium. Add an ounce of almonds to it and you’ll get an extra 6 grams, which brings you closer to your 20-gram goal. If you want to get to the top of this protein ladder, put a tablespoon of chia seeds in a bowl of Greek yogurt.

Frances Largeman-Roth Double Orange Juice, RDN

PB & Berry Breakfast Bowl from Joy Power

Greek yogurt isn’t the only option in the dairy aisle that has a protein credit. Cottage cheese leads when it comes to the amount of protein it provides per serving. Half a cup of cottage cheese contains 15 to 16 grams of protein in 90 calories. Top it with an ounce of toasted walnuts and you’ll get an extra 4 grams, giving you just what you need to start your day off right. Add fresh berries for more fiber and important nutrients. You can also use cottage cheese as a protein-boosting ingredient in breakfast favorites like pancakes and pancakes.

Healthy Banana and Cheese Pies from Joy Power

meat / fish

While bacon makes everything better, it’s actually not a great source of protein, packing your breakfast plate with just 6g of protein per two slices. You’ll do a little better if you choose two pieces of classic breakfast sausage, which serves 10g in two. Or you can choose a vegan option, like the ones from Beyond or Impossible, which will save you 11 and 12 grams, respectively, for two pancakes. You can round these pancakes with eggs or yogurt to the 20g mark.

Could a favorite New York deli be a protein powerhouse? In fact, a sesame bun with fennel of cream cheese and 2 ounces of smoked salmon “Lux” clocks in at 25 grams of protein. If you want to cut back on some calories, you can always wrap salmon in tortillas, but I can’t guarantee it will be satisfying.

Related: More Americans are eating more plant protein. Registered dietitians share the best ones for your health.

vegetable protein

Many of us are reducing the amount of animal protein in our diet for the sake of our health and the health of our planet. And one of the smartest ways to get plenty of plant protein and reduce water use is to cook with legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), which require very little water to grow. One of the benefits of pulses is that they provide a large amount of protein, along with a large dose of fiber, all in an easy-to-use package. And when you buy them canned, preparation is minimal, making them a staple to stock up on stars!

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos, Lauren Salkild

Breakfast burrito can be made as easily as scrambled eggs. Put a cup of black beans in a burrito with 2 tablespoons of the shredded Mexican cheese mixture, garnish with the sauce and you’ll have a 20g protein breakfast in minutes. And don’t forget the hummus! It’s excellent on toast and can help boost your protein intake, with a half cup serving to shell out 4 grams of protein.

Hummus Aisha Nurjaja

walnut seeds

Other plant protein sources include nuts and seeds. While almonds are top nuts at 6 grams per ounce, peanuts (a legume) are just over 7 grams per serving. Putting a tablespoon of nut butter in a bowl of oats or slathering it on a slice of toast is a great way to add a protein boost to any breakfast. For a 24- to 26-gram breakfast, you’ll want to spread 1 tablespoon of nut butter on two slices of high-protein bread (like Dave’s Killer Bread Good Seed or Ezekiel bread). Who says toast isn’t a good breakfast option?

Frances Largeman-Roth Almond Butter, RDN

Mix up a rich and delicious breakfast with Natalie Morales’ easy, protein-packed smoothie. It combines the protein power of peanut butter, flaxseed and protein powder for a super great start to your day.

Natalie Morales’ Easy Breakfast Smoothie full of protein from Natalie Morales

protein powder

Powdered protein is ubiquitous these days. No doubt your Instagram feed is full of ads for various vegan or whey-based protein powders. Once you find one you like, it’s a super convenient way to boost your protein level in the morning.

For people like me who eat breakfast after a workout, the Workout Recovery Smoothie, which contains 25g of protein, is a great option. This protein will help repair any tiny tears that may have occurred during your sweating session. You can also use protein powder to add a boost to oatmeal, muffins, oatmeal, and overnight pancakes.

Exercise Recovery Smoothie by Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN

You have plenty of options for a protein-rich breakfast. Here’s to making the most important meal of the day the most satisfying for you, too!

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