How Much Protein Should I Eat for Breakfast?
Breakfast is known as the most important meal of the day, it helps you to start the day with energy and also to fulfill your daily nutrients requirements (1). However, do you know how much protein you should consume in your breakfast?
In this brief guide, we will address the query “How Much Protein Should I Eat for Breakfast?” Additionally, we will cover relevant information such as an example of how to eat the appropriate amount of protein in a single breakfast, the role of protein in your body, and the best protein sources.
How Much Protein Should I Eat for Breakfast?
The general recommendation for optimal nutrition in the morning is to eat between 20 and 30 g of protein at breakfast (2). This quantity of protein will improve muscle synthesis and induce better satiety sensation (helpful for weight management) (1).
Furthermore, breakfast is essential to refuel your body with energy; beyond this fact, after waking up your body produces cortisol (the stress hormone), which needs to be countered by the glucose found in foods (1).
Cortisol is a normal response from your body, it is strictly necessary for the normal functioning of your metabolism. Nonetheless, if cortisol is not regulated, it could increase catabolic metabolic pathways, which can impair muscle growth, increase cravings, and visceral fat (3,4).
How You Can Eat the Appropriate Quantity of Protein at Breakfast?
In the following table, you can find an example of breakfast with approximately 20 – 30 g of protein. We are presenting a breakfast with almost all food groups, remember that an optimal nutrition requires all food groups.
Adapted from USDA FoodData Central (5-9)
|Food||Protein provided (g)|
|2 scrambled eggs||12 g|
|1/2 cup of cooked spinach||2.65 g|
|2 whole grain bread||7.9 g|
|1 cup (0.24 l) of strawberries||1.1 g|
|1/3 cup of avocado||1 g|
|100 g of Greek yogurt||9.95|
|Total protein intake||34.6 g|
As you can see, it is very easy to obtain more than 30 g of protein in a single and simple breakfast.
What is the Importance of Protein for Breakfast?
There is no special or unique role of protein if consumed at breakfast compared to other meals (e.g., lunch and dinner). Overall, protein is an essential nutrient in your diet because it is the only macronutrient containing amino acids and nitrogen (10).
Amino acids are the building blocks for several structures of your body, for example: muscles, hair, organs, nails, and cells (e.g., immune cells). Therefore, proteins can exert functions like (10):
- Growth and muscle hypertrophy
- Digestion, absorption, and metabolize nutrients by creating enzymes involved in those processes
- Protecting against diseases by creating immune cells
What are Protein-Rich Breakfast Foods to Consider?
The best protein-rich foods to consider for breakfast are animal-derived foods, for example (11):
- Milk and dairy products (yogurt, cheese)
- Meat and meat products like ham
Animal derived foods are good protein choices because they contain high-quality proteins. High quality proteins provide you with all essential amino acids; these are the ones your body cannot synthesize (11).
Essential amino acids are required for muscle synthesis, immune cell production, and even synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters (11).
You can obtain good proteins from vegetable sources, but you must combine cereals and legumes. Individually, both cereals and legumes are incomplete proteins because they lack Lysine and Methionine, respectively. But when they are combined, they complement each other to form a complete protein (12).
Therefore, you should combine cereals like rice, oatmeal, wheat, rye, or barley with legumes like beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils.
Is it Important to Consume Other Nutritional Components for Breakfast?
Yes, it is crucial to eat all nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Carbohydrates and fats are good sources of energy to start your day. Healthy fats (like avocado, olive oil, and nuts) will provide you with fatty acids that can exert cardio protective, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects (13).
Vitamins and minerals are crucial for your health because they assist your metabolism and your immune system; for example, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D are essential for your immune system (13).
On the other hand, B vitamins are needed for a correct cognitive development and to prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (13).
In this brief guide, we addressed the query “How Much Protein Should I Eat for Breakfast?” Additionally, we covered relevant information such as an example of how to eat the appropriate amount of protein in a single breakfast, the role of protein in your body, and the best protein sources.
- Spence C. Breakfast: The most important meal of the day? Int J Gastron Food Sci, 2017;8:1–6.
- Beermann T, Mortensen MN, Skadhauge LB, Høgsted RH, Rasmussen HH, Holst M. Protein and energy intake improved by breakfast intervention in hospital. Clin Nutr ESPEN,2016;13:e23–7.
- Choudhary D, Bhattacharyya S, Joshi K. Body weight management in adults under chronic stress through treatment with Ashwagandha root extract: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med, 2017;22(1):96–106.
- Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA, Hymer WC, Nindl BC, Fragala MS. Growth hormone(s), testosterone, insulin-like growth factors, and cortisol: Roles and integration for cellular development and growth with exercise. Front Endocrinol, 2020;11:33.
- FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 9 June 2023]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172187/nutrients
- FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 9 June 2023]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172688/nutrients
- FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 9 June 2023]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167762/nutrients
- FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 9 June 2023]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171705/nutrients
- FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 9 June 2023]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168463/nutrients
- Olson B, Marks DL, Grossberg AJ. Diverging metabolic programmes and behaviours during states of starvation, protein malnutrition, and cachexia. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle, 2020;11(6):1429–46
- Bradbury KE, Tong TYN, Key TJ. Dietary intake of high-protein foods and other major foods in meat-eaters, poultry-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans in UK Biobank. Nutrients, 2017;9(12):1317.
- Day L. Proteins from land plants – Potential resources for human nutrition and food security. Trends Food Sci Technol, 2013;32(1):25–42.
- Godswill AG, Somtochukwu IV, Ikechukwu AO, Kate EC. Health benefits of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and their associated deficiency diseases: A systematic review. International Journal of Food Sciences, 2020;3(1):1–32.