How Much Protein Do I Need for Breakfast?

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Guidelines and Insights for Getting Enough Protein at Breakfast

Just about every process and part of the body uses protein. From building muscle mass and repairing tissue to facilitating enzymatic reactions and blood flow, your body needs an ongoing supply of this vital macronutrient. It's easy to get plenty of protein with the filling and meaty dishes common at lunch and dinner, and it's equally easy to overlook the importance of protein at breakfast, when your body is first getting into gear. If you skip breakfast, you're losing an entire meal's worth of protein, and even if you just eat a quick bowl of oatmeal you're still unlikely to get a full meal's protein supply. Fortunately, there are plenty of tasty high-protein breakfast foods. A little bit of thought and attention may be all you really need to eat enough to maintain a steady energy level and avoid cravings for the wrong foods at the wrong times.

Adjusting the Formula

The grams-to-body-weight formula for daily protein intake is a general rule and is a useful starting point, but it has many exceptions and subtleties. If you're physically active, you should eat additional protein, and if you're mostly sedentary, you'll likely need less. Pregnant and nursing women need extra protein, and teenagers who are growing quickly also need more protein relative to their body weight.

Protein-Rich Breakfast Foods

Eggs, meat and dairy products are the obvious high-protein breakfast foods. Eat them in moderation, and also look for plant-based proteins to include in your morning meal. Nuts and whole grains have plenty of protein, and soy- or whey-based protein supplements can easily boost your protein intake early in the day. Try varying your protein sources; avoid too much red meat or high-cholesterol foods, and consume vegetarian proteins from multiple sources so you get a rich array of amino acids.

The Benefits of Breakfast Protein

Protein provides a steady and sustained source of energy, so eating enough of it at breakfast allows you to start your day productively and purposefully. In addition, protein tends to be quite filling, so eating enough of it early in the day can help you to manage your weight and avoid unnecessary snacking. The correlation between a protein-rich breakfast and fewer cravings is physiological: in 2013, The Atlantic reported that a University of Missouri study actually found a correlation between protein-rich breakfasts and the hormones and brain signals that regulate appetite.

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