Skip to content

Everybody Eats: Getting enough protein? Have some at breakfast

It makes sense to nourish ourselves when we are most active, so boosting protein at breakfast to match your carbohydrate intake could help

Are you reading about protein a lot lately? Is your daughter aiming for 30 grams of protein at breakfast? Maybe your co-worker is filling the fridge with hard-boiled eggs to snack on? Or perhaps you’ve noticed on social media that you can boost the protein content of coffee by melting peanut butter with your espresso?

The talk about protein is everywhere right now.

What are protein foods? Foods that are high in protein include eggs, Greek-style yogurt, cottage cheese, nut butters and nut powders. We often think of the plant-based proteins, like lentils, beans and tofu or tempeh as protein for vegetarians but they are good for everyone and can still be inexpensive to buy. While the price of meat, poultry and fish is going up, the cost of lentils, canned beans and tofu remains under $5.

Even our grains like oatmeal and whole wheat flour have some protein. Seeds like quinoa, flax or hemp are good sources of protein and can easily be added to recipes or dishes to boost protein.

Nutrition science shows us protein has many functions and has wonderful benefits for us. For instance, we know eating protein foods with our carbohydrates helps the carbohydrates last longer. By adding a couple of eggs to your toast in the morning you will decrease the blood sugar elevation that would come from eating toast alone. You’ll also likely feel full longer by pairing protein with carbohydrates.

As well, consuming protein after a workout helps rebuild and repair our muscles and helps to maintain our lean body mass.

Canada’s Dietary Reference Intakes suggest most adults require between 46 and 56 grams of protein. These recommendations are based on a low body weight and so protein needs for most folks in our population may be higher. While we don’t need endless protein in our diet, there is a movement in the research community to promote slightly higher protein recommendations for some parts of the population like older adults.

Boosting protein at breakfast is the rallying cry for many health influencers. We know it’s the “most important meal of the day” and now there is a push to make it more nourishing as well. The emphasis on morning protein is giving some folks a new perspective on how they feel when their first meal of the day is protein-rich. Comments often include feeling more energetic or less foggy in their thinking.

It makes sense to nourish ourselves when we are most active, so boosting protein at breakfast to match your carbohydrate intake could help.

Some of the ideas people are trying include adding protein to your morning oatmeal. A handful of walnuts and some flax seeds along with a little milk can increase your protein. And grandmothers in the past used to say the flax seeds would give you a “glossy coat” just like the horses in the barn. Milk is a source of protein and recently, milk producers began offering a high-protein milk. You can make your own high-protein milk by whisking three tablespoons of milk powder to your regular cup of milk.

Similarly, if you love peanut butter, try mixing some peanut butter powder into your peanut butter to boost its protein content too. Blending soft tofu or cottage cheese into your morning smoothie is another way to get more protein from food.

Finally, having breakfast for dinner is considered a treat but why not have dinner for breakfast and eat up some delicious leftover savoury tofu in your breakfast wrap.

Guelph is fortunate to have a local tempeh producer called Tempeh Goodness. Tempeh, an Indonesian bean product traditionally made with soybeans, is protein-rich. Available at the Guelph Farmers’ Market, Tempeh Goodness often partners with other local chefs to include tempeh into their meals so you may be able to try eating tempeh before you learn to cook it.

Recently they collaborated to produce meals for Guelph’s Better Food Co. and provided all the tempeh for the meals.

During this time of food insecurity many protein foods are out of reach for many of our neighbours. The Guelph Food Bank makes an effort to provide people with a variety of food, including protein foods, each month. The Guelph Food Bank explains that, “We provide an assortment of fresh and non-perishable foods for households of all sizes”.

In addition to a variety of non-perishable canned goods such as tuna, canned beans and lentils and fresh foods like eggs and milk, Guelph Food Bank members  receive frozen meat or fish, including Halal and Kosher options when available.