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For the Week: Include protein in your breakfast routine

Beef up your breakfast with healthy protein!
Lindsay Guentzel

Hey! It’s For The Week but on a Friday! Confused?

From here on out, you can expect For The Week in your headlines every Thursday (although this week I got so caught up by the wonderful weather on my birthday, I forgot to hit publish so I appreciate your patience).

Why the change? By Sunday, most people have already done their grocery shopping for the week ahead. This way, there is plenty of time to be inspired and set your plan for the next week. So when you go to the grocery store over the weekend, you’ve got a plan in place that uses some of the things you’ve learned from For The Week.

If you’re new here, my name is Lindsay Guentzel. I’m a food writer at Bring Me The News and two things I’m passionate about are cooking and helping people. Sharing my meal prepping tips and tricks here with you combines both! 

I am a self-proclaimed meal prep expert. Over the years, I have made every mistake under the sun and am finally in a routine that works for me (and my household). My goal is to share what I’ve learned with you -- and to always offer up ways for you to modify my ideas to better serve you and your lifestyle.

This week? We’re talking about the importance of including protein in your morning routine.

If you are just joining in, take a look back at my previous editions of For The Week for even more inspiration.

Protein in the AM: Why?

One benefit of eating protein -- it helps you stay fuller, longer. So by adding it to your morning routine, you’re setting your body (and your brain) up for success.

Life Time registered dietitian Anika Christ coaches her clients on finding ways to meet their nutrition and fitness goals -- and protein plays a big part in those equations.

“Adding more protein to your diet not only supports a lean body, but also improves satiety, increases overall calorie expenditure, supports lean body mass maintenance and supports recovery from exercise,” she said.

If you are active and working out regularly, Christ recommends one gram of protein per pound of goal body weight (for example: if you want to weigh 150 pounds, you should be eating 150 grams of protein a day). With numbers that high, she encourages her clients to break their daily goal down into 3 or 4 smaller goals so they can focus on fitting in a protein-dense food at each meal.

For breakfast, hard-boiled eggs, nitrate-free bacon, cottage cheese and protein shakes are some of Christ’s favorite recommendations.

“Protein can help with satiety by stimulating the release of the hormones cholecystokinin, PYY, and GLP-1, which reduce feelings of hunger, prolonging the length of time before hunger returns,” she said. “The hormones act on the nervous system and alter signals in the brain about food needs.”

Another upside to protein in the morning? You’re giving your body time to use it throughout the day. The long-lasting effects of protein have been shown to help manage glucose levels, boost immunity and even help break your night-time snacking habit.

What works for me

For a solid four years, I’ve started my morning with the same thing -- black coffee with protein powder mixed in. It is so ingrained in my routine that it is not uncommon for me to have a small plastic container full of protein powder in my purse when I’m starting my day somewhere else. Sure, I get some strange looks when I dump in what looks like way too much powdered coffee creamer. But honestly, the benefits of this heavy dose of protein first thing in the morning has really been encouraging (I’m getting around 30-35 grams of protein in my coffee).

I use Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides -- a tasteless powder with protein, collagen peptides, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C. I was first introduced to the product when I did the Whole30 years ago. I love this type of protein powder because of all the other good-for-you things in it. My hair, nails and skin have benefited, my gut is more balanced and most importantly, my joints -- including my stiff knees -- are moving more fluidly.

That’s just my experience. I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor. I’m just an everyday person who found a “trend” that works for them. I don’t have any connection to Vital Proteins, other than I have a pantry full because there was a really good sale on them a few weeks back and it was the perfect opportunity to stock up (tip: best price I’ve found is at Costco or at Fresh Thyme when they do their vitamin sale).

There are so many great protein powders on the market that finding one that works for you shouldn’t be complicated. Flavored powders -- like vanilla and chocolate -- are a fun addition to coffee, especially if you are someone who adds cream or sweetener. You can also buy single-serve portions for many brands so you can test out the flavor and texture before you commit to buying a whole jug (keep an eye out for grams of sugar and calories).

Protein-heavy breakfast meal ideas

One rule I try to stick to each week is I pick one meal and I eat the same thing for that meal for the whole week. You might cringe at the monotony but it cuts out a ton of decision-making and stress.

For me, breakfast tends to be the easiest meal to do that at. These are some of my favorite breakfast meal ideas that are both protein-heavy and can be made ahead of time.

Sausage Hash Brown Egg Muffins

Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

Kodiak Power Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix

Chocolate Banana Breakfast Quinoa

Tips & tricks to increase your daily protein intake

Use a tracker like MyFitnessPal to log your protein each day.

Having a general idea of how much protein you get on an average day can help you fill in the spots where it is missing.

Make sure you are getting enough fiber with all that protein.

“People should add in plenty of non-starchy vegetables into their diet to ensure they’re getting good nutrition and adequate fiber,” Christ said.

Set small, attainable goals for the first couple of weeks.

You want to make sure you are slowly building up to your protein goal. Don’t jump from 30 grams one day to 150 grams the next. Too much protein too fast can make you nauseous and constipated (hence that fiber recommendation).

Strive for better, not perfect

The quickest way to give up is to try for perfect right away. And breaking a routine is just as hard as starting a new one. So while you work on cutting out that sugary cereal each morning, add in some eggs or plain yogurt sweetened with fresh fruit. Small, deliberate changes add up over time.

If you have a meal prepping question, I would love to help you tackle it. Shoot me an email at lindsay@bringmethenews.com -- shout out and happy birthday to Kevin who sent me an email this weekend!

Like Lindsay’s work? Follow her recipes, blogs and videos here on Bring Me The News or on her website https://lindsayguentzel.com/. Or follow her on social media @LindsayGuentzel on Twitter and Facebook.

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