Routt County CSU Extension: Give breakfast a protein bump |

Routt County CSU Extension: Give breakfast a protein bump

Karen Massey/For Steamboat Today

If your goal is to achieve a healthy weight, build muscle and not feel hungry while you do it, I have a plan for you. Recent research has shown that increasing your morning protein intake could be the answer. By spreading your protein foods throughout the day, you could feel satisfied all day while improving your ability to both lose weight and increase muscle mass.

Most Americans already eat almost twice the Recommended Dietary Allowance, or RDA, for protein. In the past, health professionals believed we were eating too much protein. Now, there is growing agreement that our higher protein consumption is necessary for optimal health. By eating twice the RDA, the typical American gets plenty of protein but would benefit even more if it were distributed differently.

For most of us, the bulk of our dietary protein is eaten at dinnertime. A burger, chicken or fish dinner is a natural choice in the usual American diet pattern. It is typical for people to consume 50 to 60 grams of protein for dinner, about 15 to 20 grams for lunch and a much lower 10 to 15 grams of protein for breakfast.

We are now discovering that shifting some of our dietary protein from dinner to breakfast would be a healthful change. Moving to a more balanced distribution of 30 grams of protein each for breakfast, lunch and dinner would take advantage of protein’s role in muscle synthesis and curbing cravings.

There are plenty of protein foods for lunch and dinner, but eating 30 grams of protein for breakfast can be a bit of a challenge until you find your favorite high-protein combinations.

Consider the following breakfast ideas.

• A cup of plain Greek-style yogurt has 22 grams of protein compared to traditional-style yogurts, which have 12 grams. Make a blend of Greek yogurt, fruit and some whey protein powder for a portable breakfast smoothie.

• One cup of low-fat cottage cheese has 28 grams of protein. Make a breakfast bowl with cottage cheese and berries, and top it with your favorite granola for eight grams of protein in a 1/2 cup serving.

• A large egg has 6 grams of protein. Make a Mexican scramble with two eggs, black bean (eight grams of protein per 1/2 cup) and maybe add some protein-rich cheese.

• One cup of cooked quinoa provides eight grams of protein. Make some quinoa, peanut butter (8 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons) breakfast bars to eat on your way out the door in the morning.

• Explore new ways to include non-breakfast protein foods into your morning meal. A three-ounce serving of chicken breast has 25 grams of protein, and a three-ounce serving of lean ground beef has 22 grams of protein, so consider having your leftovers for breakfast.

Start your day with a high protein breakfast, and explore the benefits of building muscle, feeling satisfied and avoiding unnecessary snacking.

Karen Massey is a registered dietitian nutritionist and family and consumer science extension agent with Colorado State University Extension in Routt County. For more information, call 970-879-0825 or email

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