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What’s Cooking in Illinois: Do you incorporate protein into breakfast? It’s not as hard as you might think!

Charlyn Fargo Ware

May 28, 2021

2 Min Read
avocado toast
PERFECT: Avocado toast topped with bacon and a fried egg is the perfect protein-packed breakfast.Charlyn Fargo Ware

We hear a lot about the need for protein. But at every meal? We do a great job of getting protein at dinner with grilled T-bones, chicken and pork chops, but perhaps not such a good job at breakfast or with snacks.

How much protein do you need? A 120-pound adult needs 45 to 70 grams of protein each day, but the key is to spread consumption over meals and snacks, not consume it all in one meal. 

That’s because our bodies can only use 25 to 30 grams of protein (the equivalent of about 4 ounces of meat) at a time to maximize muscle building and repair.

Getting protein at breakfast can help curb hunger and start your metabolism. Every meal should contain a combination of protein, fats, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Not only does that support weight loss and sustained energy levels, but it helps preserve and build muscle mass, according to a 2014 Journal of Nutrition study.

So how do you get protein at every meal? Think Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, string cheese, hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, protein powder added to smoothies or oatmeal, nuts, seeds and ancient grains like quinoa. Rather than a giant bagel with cream cheese and a cup of coffee, start your day with overnight oatmeal, a peanut butter smoothie or a protein pancake. Avocado toast with a fried egg and/or crumbled bacon makes a great breakfast that’s really satisfying.

For snacks, add a piece of string cheese to your air-popped popcorn or grab a handful of almonds. Hummus with fresh veggies can be satisfying, as well. Protein helps slow our digestion of carbohydrates and helps us feel full.

And if you add consistent exercise to protein throughout the day, it helps preserve muscle mass. As we age, that’s even more important. Muscle mass loss begins as early as age 30, and after age 50, it occurs at a rate of 1% to 2% per year.

The bottom line? Aim for protein at every meal.

Here’s a recipe for Avocado Toast that my family loves. You can even have it for lunch. Mix and match toppings according to your tastes.

Avocado Toast

1 avocado
1 egg
1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 slice whole wheat bread, toasted
1 teaspoon Everything Bagel seasoning

Cut avocado in half and remove pit. Dice entire avocado flesh and mash to desired texture. Add lemon juice (to keep from turning brown). Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add oil. Once it shimmers, crack egg into pan and cook to desired doneness.

Spread mashed avocado over toast and top with Everything Bagel seasoning. Top with crumbled bacon and fried egg. Serves 1.

Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with Southern Illinois University Medical School in Springfield. Send recipe ideas to her at [email protected]. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

About the Author(s)

Charlyn Fargo Ware

Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with Southern Illinois University Medical School in Springfield, Ill. Email recipe ideas to her at [email protected].

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