Written by Stacy K, Contributing Writer
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but with so many choices (and conflicting information), it can be difficult to know what to serve our family.
While cereal or toast may seem easy and convenient, these high-carbohydrate choices lead to elevated blood sugar levels which drop quickly and soon leave us feeling tired and hungry. Research shows that a breakfast high in protein actually stabilizes blood sugar and prevents hunger for a number of hours.
A protein-rich breakfast has two other significant benefits besides keeping you full longer:
1. Improved Concentration and Focus
As we all know, eating breakfast is more than filling the belly and reducing hunger, it’s about nourishing the body and brain. The brain needs amino acids in order to produce neurotransmitters (which are an important part of the brain’s communication system); protein is an excellent source of amino acids. Eating a high-protein breakfast supports brain function and leads to increased alertness throughout the morning.
A protein-rich meal keeps us full much longer than a carbohydrate based one. Staying full helps our minds focus on the task at hand rather than dealing with hunger pains, allowing the brain to function at a higher capacity.
While a breakfast high in protein is beneficial for anyone, it is especially recommended for children with ADD/ADHD .
2. Weight Control
A high protein breakfast is satisfying to the body. This satisfied feeling helps reduce cravings and snacking. When we eat foods that have little nutritional value (or not enough fat), we are left unsatisfied. This unsatisfied feeling often leads to excessive cravings and extra snacking as we look for satiety.
It has also been shown that a protein-rich breakfast not only keeps you full during the morning hours, it actually helps sustain fullness throughout the entire day. This means we are more in control of our hunger and therefore our food choices.
Image by Drab Makyo
Good Choices for a Protein-Rich Breakfast
At first glance it seems that preparing a protein-rich breakfast might take a lot of extra time. It certainly isn’t as quick as pouring cereal out of a box, but with a little forethought, you can have breakfast on the table without spending all morning in the kitchen.
Here are a few suggestions for a simple breakfast that is high in protein:
- Eggs (the most obvious choice) – Eat them scrambled, boiled, poached, fried, as an omelet, or in egg burritos.The best part about eggs is that they can be prepared very quickly (scrambling or frying takes only a few minutes), they are also economical.
Don’t forget to use a little healthy fat when preparing eggs. Fat such as coconut oil, palm oil, butter, ghee, tallow, or lard, are good for you and will help keep you full for a good few hours.
If you are unsure about which type of eggs are best, read Stephanie’s post about how to choose a good egg.
- Meat – such as sausage (homemade, if possible), bacon, or ham. Choose meat from pasture-raised animals when possible. Meat can be cut used economically by cutting into small pieces and adding to eggs, omelets, or casseroles.
- Peanut butter on toast – Yes, this does include bread, but it is a good way to increase protein simply.
- Breakfast Casseroles – usually egg based. They are a good place to include extras such as cheese, meat and vegetables and many recipes can be pu together the night before and baked in the morning.
- Protein Pancakes - recipe below.
Pancakes are favorites of many children, but definitely fall into the high-carbohydrate category. Adding cottage cheese and extra eggs will increase the protein level significantly. (I promise you won’t taste the cottage cheese!)
I consider this recipe a good compromise. Eating eggs would be preferable, but it’s still a good choice. These are a family favorite around our house.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (if you are not there yet, use unbleached white flour and gradually replace small amounts with wheat flour)
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil (I currently use safflower oil but plan to try it with coconut oil soon)
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
Cook as you would regular pancakes (use plenty of butter to grease the pan).