I Tried Doubling the Amount of Protein I Eat at Breakfast, and the Impact It Had on My Energy Levels and Focus Was… Eye-Opening

Photo: Stocksy/ Nataša Mandić
Confession: My favorite breakfast is two scrambled eggs slathered in a ridiculous amount of Truff Hot Sauce. Seriously, what else do you need in life?

Well, according to nutrition experts, you need more protein. In the morning in particular.

Indeed, eggs are considered a great breakfast option and a nutrient powerhouse by dietitians—they're filled with choline, zinc, vitamin B12, the list goes on—they don’t exactly have enough protein on their own for the most important meal of the day: breakfast. ICYMI, we recently learned that the popular "myth" that eating two eggs offers enough protein for breakfast is pretty much BS. In truth, two eggs provide only about 12 grams of protein in total. And although that may seem sufficient, Brierley Horton, MS, RD and Vanessa Rissetto, MS, RD, CDN agree that this is not quite enough for breakfast time. “Protein intake recommendations should be based on an individual’s size, fitness level, age, and goals—but generally speaking, roughly 25-40 grams is a good place to start for breakfast,” Horton told Well+Good. Duly noted.

Now that I've been made aware of the fact that I was underestimating the amount of protein my favorite breakfast had to offer, I decided to test doubling the amount of protein I ate for breakfast to see if it boosted my energy levels and focus. The results were exactly what I expected: it definitely did!

What's wonderful is that trying this experiment didn’t mean I needed to cancel my usual breakfast order altogether. Instead, I simply needed to supplement it with a few additional protein-rich options. Here are my key takeaways, including a few of my favorite easy ways to eat more protein at breakfast.

How doubling the amount of protein I ate for breakfast affected my energy levels

Aside from my sheer satisfaction of getting to eat more delicious breakfast items (hello, banana pancakes, smoked salmon toast, cottage cheese with fruity jam), I found that increasing the amount of protein I consumed first thing in the morning helped give me a much-needed boost of energy throughout the day. This came at little surprise: Increasing protein isn’t only about building muscle mass. Instead, getting enough protein is essential for longevity, boosting the health of your skin and nails, and keeping your immune system strong.

After just a few days of testing out my new breakfast routine, I found myself less ravenous come lunchtime and that the recovery time between strenuous workouts wasn’t as drawn-out as usual. Instead, I listened to my body and had enough energy and stamina to do hot yoga, pilates, and go on a three-mile run without a rest day in between—which is admittedly much more than my usual routine.

But it wasn't just my stamina that benefitted: Having more protein in the morning also helped me stay focused at work. I even found myself not needing my usual *second* pre-lunch cup of coffee to make it through my morning meetings without yawning endlessly. Major win for my anxiety.

A few breakfast items that made eating more protein a breeze

So, how exactly did I add more protein to my breakfast routine without breaking a (pun intended) sweat? Well, it was much easier than I expected, mostly because I didn’t want to give up my usual two-egg dish. All I had to do was simply supplement my go-to with additional hearty pairings, like these easy cottage cheese recipes, which include savory cottage cheese muffins and blueberry cottage cheese overnight oats. (For reference, a cup of cottage cheese has about 24 grams of protein—and a significant amount of your daily intake of calcium, riboflavin, and selenium.)

But in full transparency, in the interest of time, I usually found myself adding a few heaping tablespoons of cottage cheese into my scrambled eggs—this helped make my eggs even creamier and fluffier than usual, too. Then, I paired this with a small stack of protein-rich rolled oat banana pancakes, which I whipped together in a blender. Et voilà: my ten-minute, protein-packed breakfast routine.

But wait, is avocado toast a hearty, protein-rich breakfast?

Okay, this might come as a random non-sequitur, but for my fellow avocado toast aficionados: The answer is sadly no. But while avocado toast on its own doesn’t have enough protein or fiber to be considered a well-rounded breakfast (it’s only about five grams of protein... sigh), adding a few extra toppings can help up these numbers in a flash. For example, adding a few perfectly jammy eggs, scrambled tofu, stewed black beans, or a few slices of protein-rich Halloumi cheese can undoubtedly do the trick.

Smoothies are aces when it comes to protein, though

Of course, I couldn't forget that breakfast isn't complete without a few sweet options (obvi). My favorite way to sneak in a sweet treat first thing in the day without falling into a full-blown sugar crash is with these anti-inflammatory, protein-rich smoothie recipes made with ingredients like nut butter and hemp seeds. My number one option: This silky apple smoothie hands-down wins the grand prize. It stars edamame, which has a whopping 18 grams of protein per cup and contains all nine essential amino acids (aka, it’s a “complete” protein source). Guess an apple a day does keep the doctor away, amirite?

On the menu today: Easy Banana Pancakes:

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