A Protein Shake for Breakfast? It Could Be Better Than a Bagel

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    Protein shakes can be a quick, convenient, and healthy way to start your day. Find out here how to say goodbye to your morning muffin.

    There are a number of reasons to have a delicious protein shake for breakfast. They’re healthy, convenient, tasty, and will keep you full at least until lunchtime. You won’t even miss that mid-morning snack. With a few facts and a few minutes, you can change your breakfast habit forever.

    How much protein should you consume daily?

    Protein is considered to be a macronutrient, which means you need a large amount of it to maintain optimal health and wellness. It plays an important part in the creation and maintenance of every cell in the body. Daily protein intake plays a critical role in keeping the body’s cells healthy, and it should be a part of any healthy adult diet routine.

    The amount of protein a person needs is proportional to their body, not their daily energy intake. Adult protein utilization is a function of intake at each individual meal, and people typically benefit from protein intake that is above the minimum Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). The RDA is the minimum amount of any given nutrient that you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. It is essentially the minimum amount of protein that you need in order to keep from getting sick – not the specific amount you are supposed to consume every day in order to optimize your health. That being said, the RDA for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. In order to build and maintain muscle mass through a positive muscle protein balance, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends an overall daily protein intake ranging from 1.4-2.0 grams of protein/kg of body weight on a daily basis (g/kd/d).

    Benefits of consuming high protein meals:

    Supports weight management

    Healthy protein intake has been known to support weight management. This article claims that protein, in conjunction with regular exercise, is associated with healthy weight management. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates that a high-protein diet (increased from 15-30%) can promote satiation which can help maintain healthy weight. Increased protein is also favorable to changes in body composition, though more substantial research is called for.

    Aids in muscle recovery

    Protein is made up of amino acids, which act like building blocks for the body. Eating protein post-exercise provides the body’s muscles with enough amino acids to repair and rebuild. This abstract examines the dietary protein intake of athletes, from requirement to optimization, and contends that it can help prevent muscle breakdown and instead promote fat loss.

    Helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels already within normal range

    Proteins such as chicken, eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters, and fish take 3-4 hours to digest and have limited impact on glucose levels. If consumed with fiber and fats, however, protein helps to slow the digestion of carbohydrates and delay their absorption into the bloodstream, which prevents spikes in glucose levels and helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels (already within normal range) after eating. This study confirms that a protein containing diet can help you stay fuller longer and promote healthy blood sugar levels. In other words, a carb and a protein is better than just a carb alone.

    Benefits of having a protein shake for breakfast


    There’s a multitude of reasons for drinking a protein shake for breakfast and all of them trump nutritionally deficient options like muffins, donuts, pancakes with butter and syrup, and, yes, even bagels. Protein shakes are quick, convenient, and potentially delicious, tasty breakfast treats. All you need is a good blender, a little imagination and a bit of knowledge about protein shakes (which you can get in this Care/of article), a few ingredients, and you’re good to go. Think of it as a healthy, nutritious, breakfast that you can even take on the go, in no time at all.

    Keeps you feeling full for longer

    Protein slows down digestion so it helps you feel full faster, stay full longer and maintain a stable energy level as well. Having a proper amount of protein in your diet will help with overall satiety, which means having a protein shake can curb hunger and likely help you to feel full for hours after.

    Nutrient dense

    Most protein powder used in shakes is made from complete proteins such as whey or casein. They are also fortified with many of the essential vitamins and minerals you would find either in your food or other supplements you might be taking. One serving of a typical protein powder contains 25-30 grams of protein, and while this is a normal range for a meal, it is devoid of any of the antioxidants and fiber you would be getting when eating whole foods. But this is where you can get creative by adding a few frozen strawberries to your chocolate protein shake, or berries to your vanilla shake. Experiment with flavors, textures, and powders to find combinations that include fruit and vegetables, and other sources of fiber.

    Care/of’s premium brand Whey Protein powder is packed with protein and nutrients. Being a whey protein isolate, it has the highest concentration of protein and the lowest combination of carbs, fats, and lactose. It is sweetened with monk fruit, contains organic ingredients and enzymes, and is available in chocolate or vanilla flavor.

    Care/of’s premium Plant Protein powder contains vegan protein made from pea, pumpkin, and hemp seed proteins. It also contains MCT oil and is sweetened with monk fruit and available in chocolate or vanilla flavor.

    Do protein shakes really work?

    While protein shakes are not a panacea for any and all protein requirements, they are successful at what they’re intended to do. You can get 20-30 grams of protein in one serving. Protein shakes promote satiety, support weight management and muscle development, assist those who are struggling to meet their daily protein requirements, and offer the promise of a quick, convenient, nutritious meal replacement. This article reviews a number of the health benefits of whey protein and suggests major developments by the food and healthcare sectors in the application of whey proteins.

    Should you replace breakfast with a protein shake?

    Replacing meals with a protein shake on a regular basis is a personal choice that should be made in conjunction with your healthcare provider or a registered dietician. That being said, not everyone always has the time, energy, or resources available to make a healthy breakfast every single day. A healthy protein shake is always a better bet than the empty carbs at the donut shop or the processed products at the local fast-food drive-through. It’s all about making smarter choices, and there are plenty of times when a protein shake might likely be the best and smartest choice to make.

    Is it safe to consume a protein shake on an empty stomach?

    It is perfectly safe to consume a protein shake on an empty stomach. Many people drink them as breakfast, while others enjoy them after a workout that was done on an empty stomach.

    Potential risks of protein shakes

    As with all things nutritional, read your labels. And when in doubt, ask an expert. Your friends, co-workers, and gym buddies may have opinions, but get the facts. Some protein powders contain too much sugar or too many additives; be especially careful with those shakes that are premade. Others may contain unnecessary fillers that can be problematic in large quantities. But if you know what you are taking and how you should be taking it, protein shakes have proven to be perfectly safe and effective.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.