3 Easy & Vegetarian-Friendly Ways To Get More Protein In Your Breakfast
As we recently reported in one of our 2023 Wellness Trends, more and more people have been leaning toward an omnivore diet and prioritizing high-quality protein this year. After all, protein is a building block of muscles, and muscle mass plays a key role in longevity. But here's the thing—it can be difficult to make sure you actually get enough of the essential macronutrient.
See, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adult protein needs set forth by the National Academies is 0.8 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or around 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams per day for men1. But that's the minimum amount of protein that you need to eat in order to avoid nitrogen imbalance and muscle loss. As protein and amino acid requirements researcher Don Layman, Ph.D., shares with us, "Nobody I know is after minimum health. We're after optimum health." That being said, you might want to focus on adding even more protein to your plate—and especially at breakfast.
After a period of sleep, a protein-packed breakfast activates muscle hypertrophy (growth of muscle cells) for the day; yet breakfast seems to be one of the more challenging meals to make protein-dense. Well, until now: Here, find a few quick tips to help you hit your protein goals—without relying only on breakfast patties or sausages:
Include tofu in your scramble.
Whether you add a bit of tofu to your eggs or opt for a tofu scramble instead (for the vegans out there), you'll be getting a good dose of protein. In one 3-ounce serving of tofu, there's a whopping 6.9 grams of protein—about the same as one large egg.
You can add a plethora of extra veggies to your scramble as well, from bell peppers to tomatoes and mushrooms—the list goes on. This will give your dish a nutrient boost and add some much-needed flavor. Pair the scramble with a piece of toast, eat it on its own, or couple it with a serving of fruit.
Add a side of nuts.
If you're dead set on your daily breakfast, whatever it may be, we don't blame you for sticking to a routine. However, if you notice that your favorite morning dish leaves you feeling hungry a few hours later, it might be from a lack of protein. In fact, protein is the most satiating macronutrient, so it can ease hunger and prevent overeating2.
To add extra protein without disturbing your favorite daily dish, simply add a side of nuts. You can toss back some almonds, walnuts, cashews, or any other nut you fancy right after you finish your meal or on the side.
Toss a scoop of protein powder or collagen into your morning beverage.
If you choose to skip a formal breakfast (some of us aren't too hungry in the mornings, and that's OK!), you can still get extra protein via a supercharged morning coffee, matcha, or protein shake. You can opt for a collagen powder or another type of protein powder to check this box.
Collagen has a very different set of amino acids from a typical animal- or plant-based protein powder, but it can still help you meet your protein goals; in fact, one study found that you can meet your daily amino acid needs if 36% of your protein intake3 is comprised of collagen peptides. Here are a few more pros that come with each option:
- It's good for your hair, skin, and nails.*
- It can support gut health.*
- It can support musculoskeletal health, including your bones, joints, and muscles.*
- It can help with muscle gains (as many contain complete proteins).
- It's a good option for a vegan diet (find a few A+ plant-based protein powders here).
- It can help fill you up, as it generally has more calories and fiber.
If you're still not sure which one is best for you, check out this breakdown of protein powder versus collagen powder.
Having protein in your breakfast (or breakfast-like beverage) is essential for lasting satiety and overall wellness. Try adding a scoop of collagen or protein powder to your morning beverage, opt for a tofu scramble, or toss back a handful of nuts after your meal. For even more vegetarian and vegan high-protein foods, check out this guide.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.