4 dietitian-approved high protein breakfasts that have helped me lose fat and gain muscle
"From pancakes to baked oats, a protein-rich and tasty breakfast will help you start the day feeling great and get closer to your fitness goals."
By Rachel Hosie - Insider Writer
If you’re looking to lose fat or build muscle (or both — it’s possible to achieve both simultaneously), keeping your protein intake up is really important.
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Losing fat comes down to being in a calorie deficit (taking in less energy than you’re expending), and eating enough protein helps your body hold on to muscle in the process, which is something I found when I cut my body fat percentage in half.
Protein is also great for keeping you full as it’s so satiating, and it’s important for helping your muscles repair after a workout.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve lost a little more fat and built muscle, a journey that’s been helped by keeping my protein intake high.
“The majority of people in the western world eat a sufficient amount of protein on a daily basis (i.e. at least 0.8g per kg of body weight a day), however, some people do struggle to consume adequate amounts, particularly if they are exceptionally active or follow a plant-based or vegan diet,” registered dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine told Insider.
If you’re into your fitness, experts generally recommend consuming 1.6–2.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day.
While in an ideal world we’d all get sufficient protein from whole foods, I personally find this tricky at breakfast, so sometimes add protein powder to my first meal of the day.
Here are seven of my go-to high protein breakfasts, approved by Ludlam-Raine — whether you lose or gain weight comes down to your overall energy intake over the course of the day, so vary portion size to suit your lifestyle, body, and goals.
1. Cakey baked apple oats
Spiced apple baked oats is a warming winter breakfast. Photo: Rachel Hosie/Insider
I love baking my oatmeal in winter — it’s so warming and basically tastes like cake. You can go for whatever flavors you like, but I love this combination.
- 1/2 banana, mashed
- 40g oats
- 1 scoop vanilla protein
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 apple, chopped small
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- Peanut butter for drizzling
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease an ovenproof dish.
- Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, saving some of the chopped apple to sprinkle on top.
- Bake in the oven for about 20–25 minutes until golden on top (bear in mind it will firm up more once you remove it).
- Drizzle with peanut butter and dig in!
Ludlam-Raine said: “I’m a fan of any breakfast that includes one or more types of fruit (diversity is key for gut health!), and this breakfast provides one of your five a day (one portion being 80g). Oats provide additional fiber, and together with the protein powder, help to reduce the overall glycemic index of the dish, which helps to increase satiety.”
2. Fluffy protein pancakes
Pancakes get a protein boost from Greek yogurt. Photo: Rachel Hosie/Insider
It’s hard to make protein pancakes that actually taste good (I find they very often come out with a rubbery texture), but this twist on Ludlam-Raine’s own recipe is a winner for me, and it doesn’t even use protein powder.
- 20g plain flour
- 20g oats
- 2 eggs
- 100g Greek yogurt
- 1/2 mashed banana
- Vanilla extract
- Toppings of your choice
- Whisk all the pancake ingredients together then pour large spoonfuls into a frying pan on a medium heat (add a little oil, butter, or cooking spray first).
- Cook each pancake for a few minutes until bubbles form, flip and cook the other side, stack up, add toppings, and serve.
Ludlam-Raine said: “This breakfast recipe is naturally high in protein thanks to the eggs and Greek yogurt and provides fiber, nutrients (including potassium), as well as slow-release energy thanks to the flour, oats, and banana. Adding fresh, frozen, or canned fruit for a topping is a great way to get in one of your five a day.”
3. Creamy overnight oats
Overnight oats topped with blackberries and peanut butter. Photo: Rachel Hosie/Insider
I absolutely love overnight oats because you can adjust the flavors for whatever you’re craving, not to mention it’s highly nutritious and convenient. My base is always oats, Greek yogurt, protein powder, and almond milk, and then I mix up the add-ins and toppings. Try mixing in grated apple, mashed banana, sultanas, poached plums, peaches, chia seeds, or cinnamon. For toppings, try nut butter, banana, berries, or nuts.
- 40g oats
- 100g Greek yogurt
- 1 scoop protein powder
- Almond milk
- Grated apple, mashed banana, or fruit of choice
- Nut butter, nuts, or toppings of choice
- Mix everything together apart from your toppings, adding enough almond milk for it to thicken overnight (especially if you’ve added chia seeds).
- Cover and chill overnight.
- In the morning, remove from the fridge, add your toppings, and dig in.
Ludlam-Raine said: “Overnight oats make a great base for a healthy breakfast and they’re quick and easy to make too. If you’re really short of time, you can make the base 2–3 days in advance and portion in separate jars. Add a handful of fresh fruit or 30g of dried fruit for one of your five a day, as well as a source of healthy fats such as flaked almonds, nut butter, or chia seeds, for a truly balanced start to the day.”
4. Eggs, turkey bacon, and avocado toast
Eggs, turkey bacon, and avocado toast is a go-to meal for breakfast or lunch. Photo: Rachel Hosie/Insider
More an idea than a recipe, I love this meal for both breakfast and lunch, and I sometimes add halloumi if I’m extra hungry.
- 2 eggs
- 3 turkey rashers
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 slice bread
- Toast your bread and top with the avocado, grill the turkey, and scramble your eggs. Simple as that!
Ludlam-Raine said: “This breakfast provides a higher proportion of healthy unsaturated fats thanks to the avocado, and turkey rashers are a great alternative to bacon as they’re low in total and saturated fat.”
“Eggs are a cost-effective way to increase your protein in the morning and the sourdough provides extra nutrients (including B vitamins), and gut-friendly fiber too, she added. “If you follow a plant-based diet, swap the turkey for some low sugar/salt baked beans and a tofu scramble for a complete source of protein.”
Ludlam-Raine said: “This is such a simple and easy breakfast idea. Watch out for high sugar granolas though, or even better, have a go at making a big batch of it yourself.”
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