We’ve all heard it, right? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I wouldn’t call it “the most important” meal of your day. But I have to admit that a balanced healthy breakfast is worth the effort – especially if you have a body composition goal. This post contains a lengthy list of 500 calorie breakfast ideas high in protein. Keep it on hand for nutritious and delicious breakfast inspiration with simple ingredients!
Before we dive into all the options for filling breakfasts, let’s start with why you might be skipping breakfast in the first place…or running out the door with a less nutrient dense alternative.
Reasons why you might skip breakfast
- Not hungry
- Lack of time with a busy morning
- Early morning workout
- Intentionally skipping meals
My biggest suggestion is to start small. While I’m giving you a list of balanced meal ideas, you don’t have to dive head first. When I work with clients that seem to have a reduced appetite, I often recommend trying a small smoothie or simple single-serve container of greek yogurt first. This will include a source of protein…but the soft texture is usually easier to tolerate with a low appetite. It is likely that your appetite will improve overtime as you create the consistent habit of eating earlier in the day!
If you’re short on time or have hectic mornings (like most of us), I highly recommend trying a meal prepped breakfast option or knowing what pre-made items you can grab to piece together a balanced meal. You don’t need to wake up an hour early to make eggs, bacon, french toast, etc…BUT you should have an idea of what options you can pair for a nutrient dense and macronutrient balanced breakfast.
If you’re like me, you want to wake up and get your workout done before your day consumes you. So chances are you don’t want to have a full meal sitting on your stomach before you get sweaty…and you also need to get out of the door ASAP afterwards. I recommend focusing on mainly carbs prior to a workout (like fruit or toast) to help increase energy levels with an easy to digest item. Afterwards, prioritize protein and carbs for recovery. Any of the options listed in this post would be fabulous post-workout meal options. Remember, if you experience a reduced appetite after working out or are short on time – try a smoothie or a make-ahead option like overnight oats.
Intentionally skipping meals?
Hello intermittent fasting! While intermittent fasting/time restricted feedings have gained popularity in the weight loss world…I’m not the biggest fan. It can help reduce the total amount of calories consumed in a day, but there are other ways to manage intake and reach your body composition goals without a rigid set of food rules. While not impossible…it can pretty difficult to consume the amount of protein, fiber, and nutrients needed with only 1 or 2 meals during the day.
I also value staying in tune with your hunger and fullness cues. If you are hungry, it’s important to honor that cue with a nourishing meal. Ultimately, skipping breakfast means that you’re missing a HUGE window of opportunity for nutrients – specifically protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Think about it…one third of your day is a pretty big deal.
Reasons why you should prioritize a balanced breakfast
- Get a head start on nutrient needs
- Stabilize blood sugar
- Increase energy levels
- Manage hunger
- Spread protein consistently throughout the day for body composition goals
Get a head start on your nutrient needs
By including a protein source, a whole grain or starchy vegetable, some color from fruit or vegetables, and potentially a healthy fat…you are packing in tons of nutrients needed for optimal health and wellness.
Stabilize blood sugar
Aside from having a wide variety of nutrients, balanced meals can promote better blood sugar balance. Pairing protein and healthy fats along with your high fiber carb sources can influence digestion and promote a steady rise and fall blood sugar as opposed to quick spikes.
Increase energy levels
When you prioritize nutrient dense options at breakfast, you’re putting fuel in the tank. Who doesn’t want to experience increased productivity and improved mood?
Some of my clients have noted that prioritizing a balanced breakfast in the morning has helped to manage their hunger better throughout the day. Instead of getting to the point where you feel ravenous at lunch or dinner and wanting to eat everything in sight, try sticking to a consistent schedule of meals over the course of the day.
OPTIMAL body composition
Whether you have a goal to gain muscle or lose fat, I highly suggest most people plan for consistent meals with 1-2 snacks throughout the day with plenty of protein – at least 25 grams of protein each.
If your goal is to gain muscle mass, prioritizing breakfast will help you work towards enough protein and calories to support muscle growth. It’s important to note that if you do have a weight gain goal, you will likely need to further increase the amount of nutrient dense, high-calorie foods within your meals and snacks.
If your goal is fat loss or achieving a healthy weight range, then consistent, high protein meals throughout the day can ensure a wide variety of nutrients are available and help you manage hunger and. This is especially important during a time period where you are intentionally aiming to consume fewer calories.
Ultimate List of 500 Calorie Breakfast Ideas High in Protein
The following nutritious breakfast ideas are around 500 calories and provide a range of macronutrients around 25-40 g protein, 15-25 g fat, and 40-60 g carbs. They also include a variety of nutrients important to support optimal health – like the fiber/vitamins/minerals found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as well as healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil.
- 1 serving easy breakfast casserole
- 1 cup roasted potatoes
- 6oz orange juice
- 1 cup whole milk greek yogurt + 2 tsp honey
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup peanut butter chocolate chip granola
- 1 slice of sourdough bread (2oz)
- 1/2 avocado (mashed with salt, pepper, and lemon juice)
- 1 fried egg
- 1 container of greek yogurt
- 1 serving apple overnight oats
Bagel & LOX
- 1 whole wheat bagel
- 2 tbsp whipped cream cheese
- 1/4 avocado
- 2 oz smoked salmon
- Spinach + capers
ShEET PAN BReakfast HASH
- Sheet pan breakfast hash
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup grapes
Veggie Omelet + Toast
- Veggie omelet: 1 tsp butter, 1 tbsp chopped onion, 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper, 2 eggs + 2 egg whites, spinach
- 2 pieces cinnamon raisin bread, lightly buttered
- 2 flour fajita tortillas
- 2 eggs
- 1 slice cooked bacon, crumbled
- 1/4 cup Mexican blend cheese
- 1 clementine
- 6oz tart cherry juice
- 4oz water
- 1 cup frozen berries
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 scoop vanilla whey (I use Ascent!)
- 2 tbsp peanut butter powder
- Optional – 1 tbsp peanut butter to rim glass 🙂
- Hard-boiled egg
- 1 oz almonds
- 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
- 1 cup mixed fresh fruit
- 1 latte with 8oz reduced fat milk
- 2 eggs
- English muffin, lightly buttered
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 whole grain bagel
- 1 cooked egg
- 1 slice cheese
- 2 oz ham
- Handful of spinach
- 1 cup roasted potatoes
- 1/2 cup bell pepper and onion mix
- 2 scrambled eggs
- 1 crumbled turkey sausage link
- 2 tbsp shredded cheese
- Latte with 8oz reduced fat milk
- 2 Kodiak power waffles
- 2 slices turkey bacon
- 1 cup strawberries
On THE GO
- Protein shake
- 1 piece fresh fruit
- 1/4 cup mixed nuts
Last, but certainly not least – you don’t have to have breakfast foods for breakfast. If you’re not a lover of traditional breakfast foods…branch out to a more “lunch” or “dinner” style meal to see if you enjoy it more!