Protein also takes more time to digest than carbs (even whole-grain options like oatmeal or whole-wheat toast), and that higher level of satisfaction means you’re more likely to stay full until lunch time—holler.
Problem is, it can be tough to get your protein fill before noon, since a.m. meals are typically meatless. “Most of us tend to eat most of our protein at dinner with foods like chicken or fish,” Levinson says. At seven grams of protein each, eggs are an obvious choice, but they can get old. Plus, who has time to whip up a frittata before work?
Fortunately, there are plenty of other incredibly edible breakfast foods high in protein. For a well-rounded meal, Levinson suggests pairing your protein source with fiber-rich fruits or veggies and a serving of whole grains. Need a little morning meal-spiration? Try these 14 egg-free, high-protein breakfast ideas from Levinson:
1. Low-fat cottage cheese packs 28 grams of protein in a 1-cup serving, and you can top it with 2 tablespoons of chopped almonds or pistachios for an extra 3 grams of protein, along with a 1/2 cup of your favorite fresh fruit, and a dash of cinnamon for extra flavor. (Just watch out for excess salt—some cottage cheese varieties are jacked with sodium, so be sure a 1/2-cup serving of whatever brand you choose has 400 milligrams max.)
2. Whip up a savory cottage cheese meal by mixing 1 cup with 1/2 cup of sliced cucumbers, a handful of diced tomatoes, plus dried herbs (think flavor boosters like thyme, oregano, or rosemary).
3. A make-ahead savory dairy option: Toss 1/2 a cup of cubed butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon. Roast at 400 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Reheat at breakfast, then pile onto 1 cup of cottage cheese.
4. A 1-cup serving of low-fat, plain kefir has more protein (11 to 12 grams) than milk (8 grams). Plus, it’s thicker and creamier, so you may find it’s more satisfying. Make a sweet smoothie by blending together 1 cup of kefir, 2 tablespoons of peanut or almond butter (for an additional 8 grams of protein), 1/2 a cup of fresh or frozen fruit, and a few cubes of ice (if the fruit you use isn’t use frozen).
5. If you enjoy the tartness of plain kefir but crave more crunch, pour 1 cup of low-fat kefir over 3/4 cup of whole grain cereal. Top with 1/2 cup of fresh fruit and a dash of cinnamon.
6. Greek yogurt has around 15 grams of protein in 1 cup, while Icelandic yogurt has a whopping 28 grams in the same serving size. Use either—or even cottage cheese or kefir—to make a mason jar parfait at night for an easy grab-and-go breakfast the next morning: Layer 1 cup of your choice of protein along with 1/2 cup of your favorite fruit (think frozen berries or fresh pears) and 1/2 cup of granola (opt for varieties with fewer than 10 grams of sugar per 1/2 cup serving).
7. Over the weekend, bake a quick spiced pumpkin bread or cranberry-orange bread you can eat all week long. Warm up a slice in the morning, and top with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Icelandic or Greek yogurt for plenty of protein and staying power.
8. Dry oats have 6 grams of protein in a 1/2-cup serving, so mix 2 tablespoons of almond or peanut butter (8 grams of protein) into your oatmeal for a fiber and protein-rich meal. You can also get an extra dose of protein by either making your oats with soy milk (8 grams in 1 cup), or topping with Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or kefir.
9. Don’t have time to whip up oatmeal in the morning? Make overnight oats: Mix together 1/2 cup of oats, 3/4 cup of plain yogurt or kefir, 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds, and 3/4 cup of diced pears or frozen blueberries. Per serving, you’ll down about 14 grams of protein and around 350 to 400 calories. Use Icelandic yogurt or Greek yogurt to take the protein quota up another notch.
10. Spread 2 tablespoons of almond or peanut butter onto whole-grain toast. Your best bread bets: Dave’s Killer Bread (5 grams of protein per slice) or Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain breads (4 grams of protein per slice).
11. An alternative high-protein toast strategy: Top with 1/2 to 3/4 cup Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Add 1/2 cup of your favorite fruit and a tablespoon of pistachios on top.
12. Part-skim ricotta is another protein powerhouse, with 28 grams per 1-cup serving. For a sweet and easy meal, top 1 cup ricotta with 1/2 cup of your favorite fruit (roasted peaches, plums, or pears are delish), a sprinkle of cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of chopped almonds or pistachios for crunch and an added protein boost.
13. A make-ahead ricotta option: Toss 6 cups of your favorite hearty winter veggies (parsnips, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, etc.) in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of thyme. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. When ready to eat, top a 1/2 cup of reheated veggies with 1 cup of ricotta and 2 tablespoons of pistachios. Save the leftovers for future breakfasts to enjoy during the week.
14. Bake a batch of whole-grain, sweet or savory ricotta-oatmeal cups that you can toss in the freezer and reheat all week long. To make one dozen, combine 3 cups of oats, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 2 cups of low-fat milk. Add 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, then fold in 1 cup of fruit (like blueberries) or veggies (like peppers, tomatoes, and a dash of herbs de Provence), then ladle the batter into a greased cupcake tin and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes. Each cup has 6 grams of protein (from the oats), so toss two in a cup of Greek yogurt, or grab a handful of nuts, or have a side of 1/2 cup of the leftover ricotta cheese for a protein bump.
Read more: How much protein per day is enough?