Ask a Dietitian: What Protein-Packed Food Is Best for Breakfast?

Hi Charlotte, What protein is best for breakfast apart from a protein shake?

It’s a good question because if you’re trying to get more protein into your diet, breakfast is often the best meal to target, as typical breakfasts such as toast and breakfast cereals tend to be low in protein. Remember, we eat foods and not nutrients so this is simply going to be a discussion around the foods which are a good source of protein.

Personally, I’m a big fan of yogurt – dairy or plant-based – which you can add to pretty much anything. You could simply add it to fruit and granola or mix it with oats and nut butter. Depending if you prefer it hot or cold, have baked or overnight oats

When it comes to plant-based yogurts, be sure to check the label too as some don’t have a ton of protein in them. Try to look for the Greek yogurt option where possible as these tend to have a bit more.

Spreadable cheeses (think goat cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc.) are also great – again dairy or plant-based. They can form a sweet or savory breakfast on toast as they pair just as well with a drizzle of maple syrup as they do with tomatoes. 

Nuts and nut butters, while relatively high in fat, are good sources of protein. Nuts add a crunch and work well as a topping, while nut butters can be mixed into oats or pancake batters to lend flavor.

Scrambled tofu is great on toast or mixed with cooked tomatoes, mushrooms, and/or spinach. How scrambled you want it is up to you, but once you’ve squeezed the water out of the tofu it’s easier to break it up with a fork and get it crisp.

Now, you said apart from a shake, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use protein powder in other ways. There are so many protein powder recipes out there (these Huel protein pancake recipes are an office favorite) and similar to nut butters, protein powder can be mixed into pancake batters or oats. Just make sure you add more liquid or decrease the amount of solids to accommodate the protein powder you’re adding. Most protein powders are flavored so you can experiment with them to create a go-to breakfast. 

Although it can take conscious effort to incorporate a significant amount of protein into your breakfast, it will soon become unconscious. Most people don’t need to worry about the amount of protein they eat in a day as they get enough for their needs, but if you’re going to the gym or trying to feel a bit more satisfied, the suggestions above can get your day off to a good start.


Yogurt, spreadable cheeses, nuts and nut butters, scrambled tofu and even protein powders (you heard that right) are all good sources of protein with endless breakfast combinations. 

Written by: Dan Clarke, RNutr

Reviewed by: Charlotte Marie Werner, MS, RD, CDN

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