Protein has taken center stage as the latest nutrient to focus on for health and weight. While protein is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in helping wounds heal and fighting off the common cold, it's not healthy for everyone. People with certain illnesses, such as kidney disease, may need to limit how much protein they eat each day. If you or a family member needs to limit protein, starting off the day with a low-protein breakfast may help make meal planning for lunch and dinner a lot easier. Be sure to first consult with your doctor or a dietitian about your specific diet needs before restricting protein intake.
Low-Protein Diet Basics
It's impossible, and unhealthy, to completely eliminate protein from your diet. If you need to follow a low-protein diet, your doctor or dietitian should let you know how much protein you're allowed to eat each day. In general, most adults need between 40 and 60 grams of protein a day. Keeping these numbers in mind, a low-protein breakfast should have about 10 to 20 grams of protein.
Foods high in protein include meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy foods, nuts and beans. Foods with moderate amounts of protein include vegetables, starches and grains. Very low-protein foods include fruits, fats such as butter and oil, and sugar. To keep protein amounts low, make moderate and low-protein foods the focus of your breakfast meal.
Cereal and Plant Milk
Milk may be a high-protein food, but that doesn't mean you need to give up cereal and milk on your low-protein diet. Instead of using cow's milk, which has 8 grams of protein per cup, use a low-protein plant milk such as almond or rice milk, with 1 gram of protein per cup. Top your cold cereal with sliced bananas or fresh blueberries. Make overnight oats by filling a small mason jar with with old-fashioned oats, plant-milk, raisins and brown sugar.
Pancakes With Fruit
Pancakes are also a naturally low-protein food, with 2 grams of protein each when made from a traditional recipe. After mixing up your batter, add your favorite fruit, such as chopped strawberries, apples or pears. Blueberries and bananas also make tasty additions without adding any extra protein. You don't have to limit yourself to fruits to keep your pancakes low-protein. Try spices such as cinnamon, pumpkin spice, nutmeg or allspice. Serve with syrup and butter.
If you prefer a savory breakfast, try a low-protein hash. To keep the protein count low, focus on the veggies and use the meat as an accent for flavor. Saute a healthy portion of onions and peppers in oil until soft, and then add diced potatoes and continue cooking until soft and browned. Then add a small amount, no more than 1/2 cup, of your protein, such as diced cooked chicken breast, chopped sausage or ham. Cook until your meat is warmed through.
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and sharing her love of food, nutrition and health with anyone who'll listen for almost 20 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and Working Mother.