There’s more to high-protein breakfasts than weight loss, they help with energy and focus too

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They say the first meal of the day is the most important — but what to eat? Four health experts explain why a high-protein breakfast is the best option

The history books suggest that the idea of breakfast being ‘the most important meal of the day’ dates to the 19th century, when Dr John Harvey Kellogg (yes, of breakfast cereal fame) expressed his belief that eating a healthy breakfast was essential for good health.

But in an increasingly busy world, more and more people are skipping it — according to Mintel’s 2022 report on UK Breakfast Eating Habits, a fifth of Brits don’t bother with breakfast. Additionally, those of us who do eat in the mornings generally prioritise convenience over nutrition.

But how important is it, and why is a high-protein breakfast considered to be a better option than cereal or granola? We speak to four experts to learn more about their breakfast recommendations.

Why is it so important to eat breakfast?

“Breakfast is so important because it breaks the overnight fasting period,” explains Innermost nutritionist Sophie Gastman. “It’s our first opportunity in the day to provide our body with nutrition, and having the right fuel in the morning can help us stay energised for the day ahead.”

Eating a nutritious meal before you go about your day replenishes your glucose levels, providing the energy you need. It also aids with concentration and productivity and can help to stabilise blood sugar levels, potentially reducing mood swings and irritability.

“No meal is more important than any other,” says Danielle Rancourt, founder and CEO of Pivot Nutrition Coaching and a certified sports dietitian.  “But from coaching hundreds of adults and athletes, I’ve noticed that most people struggling to achieve their health and fitness goals don’t consume a balanced breakfast. Once they start implementing a high-protein, balanced breakfast, it’s as though the rest of their day seems to fall into place: they have more energy and improved blood sugar levels, there’s less bedtime snacking, fewer cravings and reduced hunger throughout the day, plus improved body composition, etc. While each meal is important, I believe a well-rounded breakfast sets people up for success throughout the day.”

Who are high-protein breakfasts best suited to?

“High-protein breakfasts are beneficial for a wide range of individuals,” explains Innermost nutritionist Isabelle Spellissy, a registered nutritionist and personal trainer. She highlights active women, busy professionals, mothers and caregivers.

“Those who exercise regularly need protein to repair and build muscles,” she says. “Protein keeps you feel full longer, preventing mid-morning hunger pangs, which can be particularly helpful during busy workdays.”

She notes that protein also helps us to regulate appetite, making it easier to stick to health goals.

“Hig- protein breakfasts are particularly great for those with active lifestyles who are aiming to maintain or build muscle mass,” adds Sophie. “But really, everyone should be looking to add a source of protein into their breakfast to maintain steady glucose levels throughout the morning.”

Protein isn’t limited to animal products such as eggs, meat, cheese, yoghurt and fish — it can also be found in fruit and vegetables, such as lentils, beans, spinach, green peas, quinoa, nuts and seeds.

What are the benefits of eating protein as your first meal?

Experts have highlighted numerous benefits — enhanced satiety, steady energy levels, improved cognitive function, blood sugar moderation and a boost in mood, to name just a few.

“Protein is more filling than carbohydrates or fats. Eating a protein-rich breakfast can help you feel fuller for longer, reducing the likelihood of snacking or overeating later in the day,” says Amanda Place, a certified health and fitness coach and founder of Sculptrition. “Protein also helps to stabilise blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This can prevent energy crashes and keep you feeling energised and alert throughout the morning.”

Amanda adds that protein provides amino acids, which are crucial for neurotransmitter production. This can enhance cognitive function, improve focus and support overall brain health. Certain amino acids found in protein-rich foods are precursors to mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which can enhance mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

“Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth and it’s also vital after a night-long fast,” explains Isabelle. “Consuming protein increases thermogenesis, which boosts metabolism and aids in burning more calories throughout the day.”

Read more: How to achieve a healthy diet on a budget

What mistakes do people often make regarding breakfast?

“Mistake one: they only have coffee. Having coffee as breakfast can negatively impact cortisol levels. It’s best to have coffee with or after breakfast,” says Danielle. “Mistake two: inadequate protein and fibre at breakfast.

“To start the day off right, begin with a balanced breakfast, containing at least 20 grams of protein, a source of fibre and some healthy fats such as avocado, flax seed, chia seed or nut butter.”

Another error is skipping breakfast altogether, thinking this will help them lose weight because they’re eating less.

“When we have clients start the day with a high-protein breakfast,” Danielle adds, “they have reduced hunger and cravings throughout the day, which promotes fat loss.”

What advice would you give to those with a busy lifestyle trying to get healthy?

There are other steps you can take aside from prioritising protein when it comes to acquiring good breakfast habits. A great place to start is by planning and prepping meals in advance — this will help you stick to your healthy choices. Additionally, having quick, easy and healthy options on hand, such as wholegrain toast with avocado and a hard-boiled egg, can help you stick to your morning plan without reaching for a pastry on the way to the office.

“Preparing breakfast the night before can save time in the morning. Overnight oats, chia pudding or egg muffins work great and can be made in advance,” says Amanda. “Adding fruits or vegetables to your breakfast boosts fibre intake and provides essential vitamins. Smoothies, vegetable omelettes or a side of fruit are great options.”

Additionally, you can set yourself up for success by avoiding sweet breakfast options like pastries, or sugary cereals, which can cause energy crashes later in the day.

If you’re not sure how to get started, here are some recipes from our experts to give you some inspiration.

Read more: Everything you need for a traditional Turkish breakfast

Amanda Place’s high-protein blueberry pancakes


  • ¼ cup liquid egg whites (around 4 eggs)
  • 1 scoop (25g) of vanilla whey protein powder
  • ½ banana, mashed
  • A splash of almond milk (optional)
  • ¼ cup (25g) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ½ tsp. coconut oil


  1. Whisk together the egg whites and protein powder.
  2. Stir in the mashed banana and add the blueberries. If the pancake mixture seems too thick, add a splash of almond milk to thin it.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a pan to low-medium. Pour in the pancake mixture and cook until little bubbles form (about 5 minutes).
  4. Make sure the pancake has set enough before flipping. Cook the pancake for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Serve with your favourite toppings.
Isabelle Spellissy’s breakfast parfait with berries and nuts


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (plain or flavoured, preferably low or non-fat)
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • 2 tablespoons nuts (almonds, walnuts, or your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flaxseeds
  • 1 serving of Innermost’s The Fit Protein in creamy vanilla for an extra 31g of protein


  1. Layer the yogurt: Start by spooning half of the Greek yogurt into a bowl.
  2. Add berries: Layer half of the mixed berries on top of the yogurt.
  3. Sprinkle seeds and nuts: Add a tablespoon of chia seeds or flaxseeds and a tablespoon of mixed nuts.
  4. Repeat layers: Add another layer of yogurt, followed by the remaining berries, seeds and nuts.
  5. Serve immediately: Enjoy your parfait immediately or prepare it the night before for a quick grab-and-go breakfast.

Sophie Gastman’s PB&J overnight Oats


  • 50g oats
  • 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 25g Innermost Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 180ml milk
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds
  • Frozen raspberries


  1. Mix all the ingredients except the frozen raspberries together in a glass jar or container.
  2. Store overnight in the fridge.
  3. In the morning, microwave the frozen raspberries for around a minute until thawed.
  4. Stir through the oats and enjoy.
  5. Top with nuts and seeds for an extra protein boost
Danielle Rancourt’s egg scramble


  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml liquid egg whites
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 28g shredded cheese
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 slice Ezekiel (or sprouted grain) toast


  1. Whisk the eggs together with the egg whites
  2. Halve the cherry tomatoes
  3. Warm the butter in a large frying pan and add the spinach
  4. Ensure the eggs are scrambled and the spinach is wilted to your preference
  5. Add the cheese and fold in
  6. Tip the mixture onto the slice of Ezekiel toast
  7. Top with the cherry tomatoes and serve

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