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Does your breakfast have enough protein?


By Shannon Crocker, MSc, RD, www.shannoncrocker.ca

How can you get long-lasting energy in the morning? Eat eggs for breakfast!

One of my favourite breakfasts is rustic whole grain toast topped with arugula, avocado and poached eggs. Not only is it super tasty, but it also gives my body what it needs in the morning – protein!

Eggs are packed with protein for hunger-curbing satisfaction, so you can stay energized and skip the mid-morning munchies. In fact, several studies have found that a protein-rich, egg-based breakfast can provide longer-lasting energy and better curb your appetite than a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast (such as a bagel).

Eating a protein-rich breakfast, such as one with eggs, can also help you build healthy, strong muscles.

How much protein should you have at breakfast?

Aim for about 20 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast (and about the same at lunch and dinner). Researchers have found that we need that much protein at breakfast to get the muscle-boosting benefits.

So how do you get that much protein?

Start with two eggs! Two eggs give you 12 grams of hunger-satisfying protein. Half of that is in the yolk, so be sure to eat the whole egg for all the protein goodness. Recent research found that we build more lean muscle and boost muscle strength more when we eat whole eggs, not just the egg whites.

However you love your eggs—scrambled, fried, hard-cooked, microwaved or poached—eating two at breakfast gets you halfway to your protein goals.

Here are two easy ways to enjoy two eggs and get enough protein* at breakfast:

  1. Ricotta Toast: Two eggs (12 grams of protein) and fresh tomato slices (1 gram protein) on top of one slice of whole grain, whole wheat toast (4 grams of protein) spread with ¼ cup (60 mL) of creamy ricotta cheese (8 grams of protein) = 25 grams of protein
  2. Muffin Tin Frittatas: Two veggie-filled muffin tin frittatas (12 grams of protein) with a side of ½ cup (125 mL) plain Greek yogurt (12 grams of protein) topped with ½ cup (125 mL) of raspberries (1 gram of protein) = 25 grams of protein

Tasty Tip: Make a batch of super-tasty, protein-packed Blueberry Fold-over Pancakes on the weekend and refrigerate. On busy weekday mornings, put two in the toaster for a satisfying breakfast. Top with fresh blueberries and enjoy with a small latte or glass of milk. Total protein: about 20 grams.

*Protein amounts from the Canadian Nutrient File, 2015.

Sources

Fallaize, R.; Wilson, L.; et al. Variation in the effects of three different breakfast meals on subjective satiety and subsequent intake of energy at lunch and evening meal. Eur J. Nutr 52(4):1353–9, 2013.

Ratliff, J.; Leite, J.O.; et al. Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men. Nutr Res 30(2):96–103, 2010.

Symons, T.B.; Sheffield-Moore, M.; et al. A moderate serving of high-quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly subjects. J Am Diet Assoc 109(9):1582–6, 2009.

Leidy, H.J.; Bossingham, M.J.; et al. Increased dietary protein consumed at breakfast leads to an initial and sustained feeling of fullness during energy restriction compared to other meal times. Br J Nutr 101(6):798–203, 2009. 

van Vilet, S; Shy, EL et al. Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of postexercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men. Am J Clin Nutr 106(6):1401-1412, 2017.

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