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5 Simple Swaps to Boost Your Protein Intake at Breakfast

October 11, 2023

One of my favourite ways to help inspire realistic action for my clients is by starting with foods or meals that they love and making small tweaks to boost the nutrition. Eating healthier doesn’t have to be so complicated – nor does it have to look the way diet culture says it does. Below, I’ll provide you with five simple swaps you can make to increase your protein intake at breakfast. 

Hi, I’m Krista! I am a Registered Dietitian on a mission to show people how to feel better in their bodies without diets! Healthy eating shouldn’t be so restrictive + complicated. Instead, I preach balance. Eating balanced means nourishing your body and your soul so you can optimize physical health without sacrificing your mental health.

1. Start with your milk

Whether you add milk to your favourite cereal, smoothie, or morning latte – swapping your milk choice could be a quick and effective way to boost your protein at breakfast. Milk can vary anywhere from zero grams of protein up to 15 grams per cup, depending on the type! 

I’ll provide you with a quick overview of the amounts of protein per cup of different types (*with the disclaimer that there is a HUGE variety out there, so not all types and flavours will be listed).

Amount of protein per cup*:

  • Coconut milk  = 0 grams
  • Rice milk = 1 gram
  • Almond milk = 2-10 grams
  • Oat milk = 4 grams
  • Soy milk = 7 grams
  • Pea milk = 8 grams
  • Cow’s milk = 8-15 grams
 

What kind of milk do you use at breakfast now? Take a minute to check out the amount of protein on the nutrition facts table of your milk container. If you’re looking for easy ways to increase your protein intake – swap for a higher-protein milk!

Please note that protein isn’t the only important nutrient we get from milk. Milk can also provide our body with carbohydrates, fats, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and more. If your milk happens to be lower in protein or you don’t drink milk – don’t worry – you can still meet your daily protein needs by choosing other high-protein foods we’ll talk about next.

2. Yogurt or Skyr

While we’re talking about dairy and plant-based dairy alternatives, let’s talk about your yogurt. Swapping a traditional yogurt for Greek yogurt or Skyr will double the amount of protein per serving. Greek yogurt tends to have a thicker consistency than regular as well as a more tangy flavour, while Skyr is even thicker but less tangy than Greek yogurt.  Although Skyr is not technically yogurt, it is made from milk using live bacterial cultures like yogurt. 

Both Skyr and Greek yogurt are good sources of protein, with similar amounts of carbohydrates, and varying amounts of fat. The other nutrient to consider when it comes to yogurt and Skyr is added sugar. The amount of added sugar will vary depending on the brand and flavour you choose, so check your nutrition facts table and aim low for added sugar. 

For people with mild lactose intolerances, Skyr would be a better choice than Greek yogurt as it contains less lactose. Some popular brands of Skyr are Siggi’s, Liberte, President’s Choice, and Icelandic Provisions.

If you want to learn more about the differences between Greek yogurt and Skyr, check out this post. And if you’re having trouble making this swap, try weaning – go 75/25% or 50/50% with regular yogurt and Greek yogurt/Skyr and see what your tastebuds think!

3. Bring on the bacon

If you are a bacon and eggs type of breakfast fan – I’ve got a swap for you to try. Traditional salt-cured bacon from pork belly is one of the most widely consumed bacon varieties around the globe.  It is high in saturated fat, containing almost 4 grams per slice, and high in sodium.  For protein, it contains about 2.5 grams per slice. 

As a replacement, I’ve got two options for you. First, you can try turkey bacon which has less fat, comparable amounts of sodium, and can have 5 grams of protein per slice (go for nitrate-free!).  Or try peameal (aka Canadian) bacon which also has less fat, comparable amounts of sodium and 6-7 grams of protein per slice depending on the thickness.

All foods fit into a balanced diet, even bacon. However, to prioritize your health it is best to limit your overall consumption of processed meats. Think of these foods on more of a monthly basis, not a daily basis.

4. Optimize your baked goods

Do you prefer sweeter breakfast choices such as muffins, waffles, and pancakes?  If so, making them at home and adding nutrient-dense additives versus opting for store-bought can be a great way to boost nutrition.  Simply adding a scoop or two of your favourite protein powder to your recipe can significantly increase your protein intake at breakfast. Other nutrient-dense additives could be ground flax seeds, hemp hearts, chia seeds, and nut or seed butter.

5. Say cheese!

Cream cheese doesn’t have to be the only breakfast cheese choice! Both cottage cheese and ricotta cheese have a couple of things in common.  They both pack about 14 grams of protein per half cup and they’re both delicious! How do they fit with breakfast?

Try mixing ricotta cheese with your scrambled eggs, slab it on your toast, and mix it into your waffle batter, omelet or frittata. Cottage cheese mixes well with scrambled eggs, pairs well with fruit such as peaches, pineapple or watermelon, and goes great in smoothies such as my Strawberry Cheesecake smoothie!

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and whoever “they” are, were right! A protein-packed, balanced breakfast can kickstart your day, help you feel satisfied, and help curb your cravings later in the day!

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