How Much Protein and Fiber a Dietitian Says Is Ideal To Eat at Breakfast

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No offense to a certain cereal brand and its storied ad campaigns, but the *real* breakfast of champions includes one very important pairing: protein and fiber. These nutritional heavy hitters have a lot in common—including but not limited to the ability to help stabilize blood sugar levels and support sustained energy and focus (sans crashes) throughout the day.

But is there a sweet spot of how much protein and fiber you should aim to eat at breakfast? We asked Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, of Real Nutrition in New York City, for answers.

Why it’s important to power your day with protein and fiber

Before we cover the ideal amount of each nutrient you should aim for at breakfast—plus sample menus for inspiration—let’s first recap why protein and fiber deserve a place in your morning meal rotation to begin with.

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“Protein is important for many reasons: It plays a major role in many of our bodily processes, including tissue repair and growth, as well as muscle maintenance, which helps to promote a healthy metabolism and strength as we age,” Shapiro says. Moreover, she says that protein helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which promotes higher energy levels without the crash. “Research also shows that consuming protein at breakfast helps you to feel satisfied for longer, since protein is the macronutrient that takes the longest to digest,” she adds.

Next, Shapiro explains that fiber is similar to protein in that it helps to manage blood sugar levels and energy levels, making it another worthy choice for breakfast. In addition, “Fiber helps to regulate bowel movements, supports digestion, and can help to lower cholesterol levels,” says Shapiro.

Unfortunately, the dietitian notes that many individuals don’t consume enough protein and fiber on a daily basis. “By including [them] in your first meal, you are more likely to meet your nutrient goals throughout the day,” Shapiro says. Plus, she says that you’ll get the most bang for your buck when you combine both. “This pairing will keep you energized for hours, plus help to support bodily processes, including digestion and cognitive functioning.”

How much protein and fiber to aim for at breakfast

Clearly, this duo is a match made in heaven… but how much of each should you strive to consume at breakfast? To start, Shapiro notes that all nutrition recommendations are unique to the individual and should be personalized based on a range of factors (including your age, weight, activity levels, etc.). With that said, she does offer a flexible range to keep in mind.

“I recommend between 21 to 35 grams of protein at breakfast—and each meal—from both animal and plant sources that are low in saturated fats, and five to 15 grams of fiber from whole food sources,” Shapiro says.

So… what would that look like in practice? Shapiro shares a few breakfast ideas that’ll help you reach these suggested ranges:

  • Protein shake: 1 cup berries + 1 cup veggies (leafy greens of your choice) + 1 serving protein powder + 1 tablespoon chia seeds + 1.5 cups almond milk + cinnamon
  • Veggie omelet: 2 or 3 whole eggs + 1 cup of mixed veggies + 1 slice of sprouted toast (such as Ezekiel bread)
  • Yogurt bowl: 5 ounces Greek yogurt + 1 cup berries + 1/2 cup high-fiber cereal (Shapiro recommends SmartBran by Nature's Path) + 2 teaspoons chia seeds + cinnamon

“I recommend between 21 to 35 grams of protein at breakfast—and each meal—from both animal and plant sources that are low in saturated fats, and five to 15 grams of fiber from whole food sources,” Shapiro says.

Shapiro also reminds us that the current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram body weight. (However, she notes that your ideal protein intake will climb if you’re highly active, want to build muscle, pregnant, or sick.) She outlines daily fiber recommendations as follows:

  • Males under 50: 38 grams per day
  • Females under 50: 25 grams per day
  • Adults over 50: 21 to 30 grams per day

A final word to the wise: If you’re like most Americans and don’t get enough fiber on a daily basis, remember to prioritize hydration as you boost your intake. “When you increase your fiber, it is important to increase your fluids as well to promote regularity,” says Shapiro.

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