Most of us have no problem getting in our daily dose of protein—in fact, we might be consuming even more of it than we need. But it turns out it’s not just about how much protein we eat. Studies show that the way we distribute our intake through the day can have significant effects on how it’s synthesized by our muscles.
Solution? Divide protein evenly among all three meals—and especially after a workout—rather than cramming it into one. Registered dietitian Elizabeth Jarrard recommends starting at breakfast, with 10 to 30 grams. Bonus: More protein in the a.m. will keep you full and help you avoid mindless midmorning snacking.
Check out these 23 recipes that fall within Jarrard’s parameters—no protein powders necessary.
Protein per serving: 19 grams A cheese-free quesadilla? It’s a thing! This recipe shows you how to do it right, using scrambled eggs and avocado to seal the tortillas together and adding black beans for more protein.
Protein per serving: 25 grams A standard egg and sweet potato hash gets a protein upgrade with the addition of chopped sausage. Everything about this dish—even the minimal seasoning—is simple, but the parts add up to a delicious result.
Protein per serving: 17 grams To make nachos breakfast-worthy, this recipe transforms them from a gloppy pile of melted cheese to a bright, crunchy mix of fresh ingredients with a few healthy extras and swaps. Eggs lend some extra nutrition, while Greek yogurt steps in for sour cream and gluten-free tortillas keep things wheat free.
Protein per serving: 30 grams Omelets usually come with a side of ham and potatoes; this one eliminates the need for extra pans by cooking the sides right into the eggs! Use lean ham to trim the fat while keeping the protein count up.
Protein per serving: 16 grams In this take on the ever-popular avocado toast, the green slices get piled on top of whole-grain bread that’s been slathered with creamy, soft cheese. Even if you go for the part-skim variety, you won’t be compromising much protein. Just don’t skip the lemon zest on top; it’s a refreshing contrast to the heavier toppings.
Protein per serving: 33 grams Chickpea flour is a great source of meatless protein, clocking in at 10 grams per half cup. Here, it’s dusted with a few spices and scrambled just like eggs. Throw in a few veggies so you can start the day with protein and produce.
Protein per serving: 20 grams This burrito proves that eating vegan doesn’t mean saying good-bye to protein. Without any dairy, meat, or eggs, it gets a whopping 20 grams per serving from a generously seasoned mix of mashed tofu and black beans.
Protein per serving: 23 grams Skillets don’t always have to include eggs to be rich in protein. This one gets plenty from the ground turkey alone. Spice it up with pepper and cayenne—it’ll be sure to wake you up first thing in the a.m.
Protein per serving: 30 grams You won’t find a spoonful of protein powder in this dish—thanks to the power of Greek yogurt and egg whites! These healthy pancakes are so insanely easy, they’re even perfect for a weekday morning.
Protein per serving: 10 grams While quinoa checks off the protein box, some of its superfood friends fill in other blanks in this sunny breakfast bowl. Sweet, antioxidant-packed berries keep the added sugar to a minimum, and chia seeds add some healthy fat alongside the coconut milk.
Protein per serving: 13 grams Yes, you read that right: It’s OK to have chocolate for breakfast in this case. If you have leftover quinoa, this chocolaty, gluten-free breakfast comes together in no time. The cold fruit makes a great contrast to the warm, protein-rich grains underneath.
Protein per serving: 13 grams Quinoa, chia seeds, and hemp hearts create a powerhouse protein trio in this refreshing pudding. Make it the night before to save time.
Protein per serving: 14 grams With its thick texture plus tons of calcium and protein, Greek yogurt makes this layered breakfast extra satisfying. Only four other ingredients are needed for the no-cook recipe, so it’s a fuss-free way to fuel up.
Protein per serving: 10 grams One of these rich and fudgy slices gives you double the protein of a your average granola bar. With fewer than ten ingredients and a mere 15 minutes in the oven, it’s an on-the-go breakfast option that’s not only healthier, but may take you less time to make than standing in line for a store-bought version.
Protein per serving: 11 grams No time for making coffee and a nutritious breakfast? Just pour the java into your oats and chill overnight for a portable meal that meets both your protein and caffeine needs. Bonus: It’s vegan friendly!
Protein per serving: 17 gramsCottage cheese is one of the lowest-in-fat and highest-in-protein cheeses out there, so even half of a cup provides plenty. Spooned up alongside oats, walnuts, and fruit, this is the perfect picture of a balanced breakfast bowl.
Protein per serving: 11 grams This Paleo recipe lands in “so crazy it’s genius” territory, because the stuff you see in the bowl is—wait for it—cauliflower! Riced and then cooked in coconut milk with eggs, flaxseeds, and pecans for protein, it ends up with a look and taste that’s somewhere between oatmeal and rice pudding.
Protein per serving: 13 grams Cheesecake in the morning? With a crust made of whole-grain oats and a filling made of low-fat cream cheese, banana, and just a touch of honey, it’s possible! The baking and chilling process requires planning in advance, but with this dessert-like breakfast waiting at the end, it’s worth it.
Protein per serving: 13 grams A look at the produce-packed ingredient list behind the vibrant green exterior of this smoothie confirms why it screams healthy. Even without the optional addition of a powder, you’re getting in 13 grams of protein from the pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts. Winning!
Protein per serving: 29 grams This recipe liquefies the popular sandwich into drinkable goodness with several twists on the original recipe: Actual green grapes add a fresher flavor than jelly, while peanut flour and Greek yogurt offer a protein upgrade.
Protein per serving: 13 grams Peanut butter has a fair amount of protein on its own. But why eat it alone when you can blend it with cocoa powder, banana, and almond milk for supplemental macronutrients to last all morning?Hello, dessert for breakfast.
Protein per serving: 17 grams Tofu is a popular protein source, especially for vegetarians, but it isn’t just for savory dishes. Put it to good use in this five-ingredient, sweet-and-tart smoothie. The tofu lends a milkshake-like texture without the need for dairy.
Protein per serving: 17 grams Subbing in low-fat cottage cheese for a portion of the cream cheese, this berry-pink drink stays true to its name while keeping its cholesterol count in check and its protein points up. You won’t even miss a crust.