How Much Protein Do I Need for Breakfast?

by Michael Brent
A slice of toast with peanut butter can be an excellent source of protein at breakfast.

A slice of toast with peanut butter can be an excellent source of protein at breakfast.

Starting the day off with a breakfast that's rich in protein will ensure your body functions normally throughout the day. Proteins are essential for such functions as metabolism, cell signaling, cell adhesion and keeping your immune system operating. Protein is even more crucial for children whose bodies are still developing.

Protein at Breakfast

Make protein part of every meal and snack, as it helps keep muscles strong and brain function operating at peak capacity. This is especially true of breakfast, when your body is craving protein because your previous intake of protein likely occurred at dinner the previous evening. Protein-rich food such as nuts, milk, eggs and meat should be part of a balanced breakfast that also includes fiber-based carbohydrates.


Your body needs a steady supply of protein throughout the day. Protein isn't stored the way fat is, so eating more protein than you need doesn't mean you can lower your protein intake later. It's generally a good idea to divide your protein intake throughout the day, beginning with breakfast. An average-sized adult should be ingesting anywhere from 15 to 18 grams of protein in five or six meals and snacks each day.

Protein and Children

Protein is an especially important part of a child's diet, as growing bodies require protein for the development and function of cells. In children, protein is essential in muscle growth, encouraging healthy growth of skin and bones, maintaining the health of eyes and building a strong immune system. Insufficient protein in a child's diet may hinder growth and development. A child's protein needs are determined by weight and age. For example, children ages 1 to 3 years typically require 16 grams of protein per day, while children between the ages of 7 and 10 require 28 grams. As with adults, divvy this up throughout the day.

Menu Ideas

A variety of breakfast foods can supply protein for both children and adults. On busy mornings when making breakfast may be difficult, a piece of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter can be a quick, easy source of protein; 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contains 11 grams of protein. Other protein-based breakfast dishes include scrambled eggs with cheese and salsa, or a poached egg on an English muffin. Bacon or breakfast sausage will also provide protein, as will drinking a glass of milk.

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