12 Ways To Make A Delicious Breakfast With Protein Powder

When you need a quick, protein-packed breakfast that can travel with you as you run out the door, your trusty protein shake always comes through. But the blender isn’t your only option for putting that protein powder to use in the A.M. From pancakes, to overnight oats, to donuts (yes, donuts!), these breakfast recipes will amaze your taste buds and forever change how you do breakfast.

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photo: Nutrition Starring You

Protein-Packed Cereal Bowl
A bowl of cereal is the classic breakfast—but it’s pretty meh when it comes to protein contents. Unless, of course, you hack this innovative idea from Nutrition Starring You. Whisk your favorite protein powder into your milk and watch that bowl of Cheerios transform into a more gains-friendly meal. (Use chocolate protein if you were a fan of chocolate-y cereal milk as a kid!)

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photo: Andrea’s Protein Cakery

Blackberry Ricotta Protein Pancakes
Feeling fancy? These pancakes from Andrea’s Protein Cakery sound like something straight from a fancy brunch menu—except they just so happen to pack 32 grams of protein per serving (courtesy of egg whites, ricotta, and vanilla protein powder). We know what we’re making for breakfast this weekend.

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photo: Chocolate Covered Katie

Chocolate Protein Mug Cake
Yes, you can totally have cake for breakfast. Especially when it’s made with spelt flour, coconut oil, and stevia. Plus, it’s got 10 grams of protein! With the help of a microwave, Chocolate Covered Katie’s mug cake takes about five minutes to throw together and cook.

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photo: Jennifer Meyering

Banana Bread Protein Waffles
Banana bread isn’t the only thing you can make with that overripe banana. Whip out the waffle maker and grab your vanilla protein to make these easy protein waffles from Jennifer Meyering. A little vanilla extract and cinnamon will make them a perfectly sweet treat.

Related: Find the perfect protein powder for you. 

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photo: Dashing Dish

Strawberry Shortcake Protein Overnight Oats
In case you haven’t heard, overnight oats are the trendiest breakfast in town. Made with vanilla or strawberry protein powder and Greek yogurt, Dashing Dish’s dessert-inspired oats make a great grab-and-go breakfast. (Swap the yogurt for applesauce or mashed banana if you don’t do dairy.)

Related: 8 Overnight Oats Recipes That Make Breakfast Taste Like Dessert

Low Carb Coffee Protein Muffins grain free, gluten free, paleo, low fat, low carb, refined sugar free
photo: Southern In Law

Coffee Cake Protein Muffins
Behold, java lovers! Start the morning off with a kick of protein and coffee with these protein muffins. Plus, Southern In Law’s recipe is flourless and refined sugar-free—who doesn’t love that?

protein crepes
photo: Little Bits Of

Protein Crepes
Looking for yet another morning meal that proves protein powder can be super-sophisticated? Little Bits Of’s two-ingredient protein crepes are the perfect vessel for nut butter and fruit galore—and they’re totally Instagrammable.

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photo: The Big Man’s World

No-Bake Carrot Cake Breakfast Bars
Complete with protein frosting, this no-bake breakfast packs major diner-good flavor without refined sweeteners, grains, or dairy. The recipe, from The Big Man’s World, also makes a great dessert or sweet-cravings crusher.

chocolate muffins
photo: Foodie Fiasco

High-Protein Double Chocolate Muffins
Get your fudge fix with Foodie Fiasco’s decadent muffins. At 86 calories (and 11 grams of protein) a pop, they’re made with yummy ingredients like chocolate protein powder, coconut flour, dark chocolate, and sweetened with erythritol. Feel free to get a little heavy-handed when measuring out that dark chocolate…

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photo: Malzis Fit

Protein Samoa Donuts
We’ve discovered the secret to surviving Girl Scout Cookie season with your health and fitness goals in tact: Samoa protein donuts from Malzis Fit. Sugar-free caramel sauce, shredded coconut, and dark chocolate make to-die-for cookie-like toppings.

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photo: Hungry Hobby

Pumpkin Protein French Toast
Probably one of the last breakfasts we associate with healthy eating, French toast can be calorie-conscious and muscle-friendly with just a few tweaks. Hungry Hobby’s pumpkin French toast is full of flavor by soaking whole-grain bread in a mixture of egg whites, pumpkin puree, vanilla protein powder, and cinnamon for a healthier version of the indulgent fan favorite.

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photo: Brooklyn Farm Girl

Double Chocolate Protein Oatmeal
A warm bowl of oatmeal might just be one of the most relaxing ways to start a morning. Add chocolate into the mix and you’re set for the day. Brooklyn Farm Girl’s chocolate-y protein oats come together quickly on the stove top—just stir in your favorite chocolate protein powder.

Related: Stock up on healthy supplies for cooking and baking.

Is There A Best Time Of Day To Work Out?

Everyone always says, “Timing is everything,” and that definitely counts when it comes to fitness. If you’ve ever felt sluggish during an early-morning sweat or unmotivated and tired during a post-work gym session, you know just how true this can be.

Busy schedules tend to dictate when you have time to work out, but your personal sweet spot may vary depending on your fitness goals and internal body clock.

Consider An AM Sweat Session If…

You’ve probably heard quite a bit of back-and-forth about fasted cardio—a.k.a. cardio you do on an empty stomach, typically first thing in the morning. “While studies don’t definitively show any timing benefits for losing weight, the exercise window can be manipulated for training adaptation and performance purposes,” says Tasuku Terada, Ph.D., researcher at the University of Alberta in Canada.

So hitting the cardio bright and early may not be necessary if you’re trying to shed pounds, but sweating on an empty stomach may promote greater muscular aerobic adaptations—like your muscles’ ability to store glycogen (and prevent energy depletion) and their number of mitochondria, which help your cells produce more energy, says Terada. Both of these adaptations ladder up to how efficiently your muscles use oxygen—though more research to support these benefits is needed, Terada says.

To reap these muscular benefits, you’d need time to fast prior to hitting the gym, which is often easiest to do overnight, while you’re sleeping.

Related: Let’s Set the Record Straight About Fasted Cardio

You may also want to consider morning workouts if you’re often plagued by sleepytime struggles. “For some individuals, rigorous exercise close to bedtime can stimulate the body and brain in a way that makes it difficult to fall asleep,” says Sina Gharib, M.D., sleep researcher and associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington.

The hormones released during and after exercise—like adrenaline, cortisol, and epinephrine—can have energizing effects for some folks. So if you have trouble falling asleep after a gym sesh and don’t have the luxury of sleeping in the next morning, it’s better to find time to work out earlier in the day. Ample sleep is crucial for benefiting from your workouts, after all, since your body uses that time to recover and grow stronger.

Consider A PM Sweat Session If…

Waking up at the crack-of-dawn to work out seems like the move (Did you crush leg day before work? Impressive.), unless, of course, it means you’re missing out on a full night’s sleep.

“The average person needs close to eight hours of sleep per every 24 hours,” says Gharib. If you fall short on that downtime, your body gets stuck in a state of constant breakdown, sabotaging your performance and progress. Waking up at five o’clock in the morning is even tougher when your progress stalls and motivation tanks.

If a morning workout cuts into your sleepy time, consider pushing your workout to later in the day, suggests Gharib.

Related: Exactly What To Do At Night To Have A Great Night’s Sleep

Another reason to exercise later in the day: performance. Chowing down on carbs before endurance events—like a long run or race—helps improve your performance during the event, according to Terada. If you’re training for a distance running event or long obstacle race, fuel is crucial to your ability to kick butt. Since your body needs time to digest and process the carbs so they can be used as fuel, you’re best off hitting these workouts a couple of hours after a meal instead of first thing in the A.M.

Having proper fuel before a workout is also key if you’re trying to build muscle, so scheduling heavy lifts for lunchtime or after work may support your gains. “If your goal is muscle growth, protein supplementation becomes more important,” says Terada. Just like you want to get those carbs in before endurance training, you want to consume muscle-repairing protein before training for muscle growth—and afterward, too.

Related: How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

The Bottom Line

With all these different variables, penciling in the perfect time to work out probably feels a little daunting—especially if you choose to challenge your body differently and do different workouts from day to day. But here’s the good news: The best workout time for you ultimately boils down to your preference.

“The bottom line is, performing exercise at any time of day is better than no exercise,” says Terada. If you find a time that fits your daily life, you’ll be more likely to make it a routine and reap the benefits of a consistent healthy lifestyle.

Related: Find a recovery supplement to help you rebound after a tough workout.

How To Make The Best Smoothie For Your Goals

We love a good smoothie, but not all blends are created equal. In order to make these liquid snacks work for your personal health and fitness goals, you may need to switch up the ingredients you throw into the blender.

First things first, you want your smoothie to provide a balance of four things: nutrient-dense carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats, and plenty of fiber, says Wesley Delbridge R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. From there, a few tweaks will help you whip up your perfect drink.

Whether you’re looking to bulk up or shed a few pounds, these nutritionist-backed guidelines can help you make you a smart smoothie next time you reach for the blender.

Goal: Weight Management

If you’re trying to shed pounds, calorie control is the name of the game. While the body needs carbohydrates for energy, cutting down on the carbs and fat in your shake can keep its calories in check to support weight loss. Making sure your shake packs plenty of protein, though, helps you maintain and build muscle while cutting calories, says Jim White, R.D., founder of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios.

Unsweetened almond milk makes a great base for a weight loss-friendly shake because it’s low in calories, White says. (One cup has 39 calories.) He recommends blending it up with whey protein powder—one scoop for women and two scoops for men. This blended snack comes in somewhere around 150 to 200 calories, keeps carbohydrates low, and packs on the protein.

Related: This Is The Best Cardio Workout For Weight Loss

Goal: Meal Replacement

On super-busy days, sitting down for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) just isn’t in the cards. Smoothie to the rescue!

If your blend is replacing a meal, White recommends women shoot for a 400-calorie drink while men go for a 500-calorie drink. When building your meal replacement smoothie, be sure to incorporate protein, carbohydrates, and fat before blending for a nutritionally-balanced result.

Start with a base of six to eight ounces of coconut milk and add the following: dry oats (a quarter-cup for women and half-cup for guys), one cup Greek yogurt, three quarters-cup berries, and a tablespoon of chia seeds. The berries knock out a serving of fruit, the oats provide fiber-filled carbs, the yogurt provides protein, and chia seeds add essential fatty acids. Now that’s a balanced, busy day-friendly meal.

Goal: Muscle-Building Or ‘Bulking’

In the fitness world, protein and muscle gains go together like peanut butter and jelly. While the average person needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day, athletes who are really working their muscles hard may need up to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram, says Delbridge. (That’s roughly 0.36 grams per pound for the average person and 0.64 grams per pound for someone stressing their muscles big time.)

White recommends muscle-making smoothies that have a ratio of one part protein to two parts carbohydrate. If bulking up is your goal, you need carbs after a lifting session to restore the glycogen in your muscles, in addition to needing protein to help them rebuild and grow. Mix one cup of skim milk (nine grams of protein and 13 grams of carbs) with a scoop of whey protein (about 20 grams of protein). Then add a medium banana for two full servings of fruit and 27 grams of carbohydrates. That gives you a prime post-workout shake consisting of 316 calories, 41 grams of carbs, and 30 grams of protein.

Related: Find the flavor of protein powder you’ll look forward to every time.

Goal: Endurance Exercise and Performance

If you’re training for a distance-racing event, or are just trying to run or cycle farther, smoothies can be a great way to fuel your body for the long haul. For this, you’ll need higher amounts of nutrient-dense carbs for long-lasting energy, says Delbridge. Oh yeah, there are bananas and oats in your future.

White recommends starting with a base of unsweetened almond milk and adding the following: a half-cup to one cup dried oats, half a frozen banana, a handful of spinach, and a full orange. This shake uses whole food sources to jack up the carbs (upward of 100 grams) and provides some protein from the oats and spinach to promote recovery post-workout, he says.

Save this handy infographic for the perfect smoothie instructions, whenever you’re craving a blend: 

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5 Health Gurus Share Their Morning Routines

You try to wake up early, eat a healthy breakfast, get some exercise in, and make sure your morning routine is all around killin’ it. But sometimes it doesn’t always work out so well, does it?

It doesn’t have to be so hard to have a great morning—promise. Putting time aside for a consistent daily routine—even just one small thing each morning to help you feel healthy and happy—can make a huge difference.

For inspiration, five health gurus offer up their own morning routines. From protein-packed breakfasts to setting intentions, you’re sure to find something here that may change the way you prep for the day ahead.

Nikki Ortiz, dancer, yogi, and 2015 National Yoga Champion

“The main thing I do every morning to ensure a successful day is meditate. I make sure I have some time with myself to get centered and grounded before I can start my day. I got in the habit of doing it every morning about two years ago and it’s changed the game. I feel very incomplete if I don’t meditate in the morning. I do it for about 10 minutes, and after that I can go about my day.”

Lauren Gleisberg, fitness pro

“Regardless of what time you wake each morning, establish and stick to a morning routine to set yourself up for success each day. My 10-minute morning routine includes waking and sitting in silence for a minute to set an intention for the day, drinking a glass of water to get my body going, writing out my daily to-do list that aligns with my weekly and monthly goals, making a protein smoothie, and then diving into my day. A simple yet productive routine like this helps set the tone for the entire day.”

Related: Shop protein for a healthy, satiating breakfast.

Cristina Curp, food blogger and recipe developer

“Although my life has had a total health overhaul in the last two years, one thing I haven’t given up is my morning coffee. Instead, I have made it into a nutrient dense vessel for all good things. My one cup of Joe packs plenty of satiating good fats, protein, turmeric, and health-promoting wild mushroom blend. A little cinnamon for flavor and a whirl in my blender. This stuff is practically rocket fuel! Here’s my recipe:

12-oz of fair trade coffee
1 tbsp grass-fed butter
1 tbsp mct oil
1 tbsp grass-fed beef gelatin
1 tbsp cocotropic wild mushroom blend
Dash of cinnamon

Blend until frothy. Pour, sip. Kick butt.”

Related: One Nutritionist’s Entire Day Of Eating, In Photos

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, nutritionist

“Two critical parts of my morning routine are my 7:30 a.m. workout and a protein-packed breakfast for refuel. I find that exercising in the morning gets my day started while I have enough energy, as I’m too drained in the late afternoon and too busy with my kids. Also, I make sure to consume a breakfast with at least 20 grams of protein along with fiber-rich carbs and healthy fat to support muscle growth and repair.”

Dr. Rajeev Kurapati, physician and author

“I wake up early (around 4:30 or five in the morning) after making sure I get at least five to six hours of restorative sleep. Then, I drink warm water to help with digestion and to re-hydrate from the night before. I do yoga and meditation for about 20 minutes after I shower.”

Related: Is It Worse To Skip A Workout Or Skimp On Sleep?

perfect morning routine

6 Dumbbell Moves That Build Muscle AND Burn Calories

Walk into just about any gym on the face of the planet and you’re sure to find a rack of dumbbells. But just because these tools are pretty standard doesn’t mean you’re limited to doing boring old bicep curls with them.

Grab a pair of dumbbells and try these exercises instead—you’ll work multiple muscles at the same time and torch calories while doing so.

Related: Find the performance supp that’ll give your next workout just the boost it needs.

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How Ballet Dancing Got My Body Fit And My Mind Strong

When I hear the word “ballet,” it conjures feelings of calmness and relaxation. No, not because I have fond memories of seeing The Nutcracker as a child, but because these days, it is the main focus of my fitness routine.

I was never a good dancer. From the time I was about four years old, I’d tried out several different styles of dance: tap, jazz, Irish. I loved dancing, though I had no clue that I was bad at it. I just blissfully bumbled along in my sparkly costumes.

In high school, I was faced with reality. I had been taking classes with some friends at a new dance studio, where I worked its front desk to pay the tuition, and one day I sneaked a look at my account in the system. There was an administrative note: If I ever tried to take the jazz class with my friends again, they should only let me sign up for level one.

After that, I didn’t go back to jazz class.

Related: How To Get A Full Workout Using Just Your Own Bodyweight

I didn’t want to give up on dance completely, but I was also afraid of looking stupid. I hadn’t realized that I was noticeably more of a beginner than the other girls, even though I’d been taking classes for years. Why hadn’t anyone told me?

By the time I hit college, I took a few dance classes, but that’s it. One class in particular stood out to me: ballet. I loved the live piano music playing classical and musical theatre medleys, the camaraderie, and most of all, how good I felt afterward. I felt flexible, taller, and high on endorphins. But those feelings of embarrassment from high school stuck around.

There was an administrative note: If I ever tried to take the jazz class with my friends again, they should only let me sign up for level one.

After I graduated, lack of convenience and logistics forced me to quit physical activity entirely—unless you count sprinting to catch up with an adorable dog.  Every so often, I would see a musical or watch a dance movie (think: Center Stage or Step Up) and feel twitchy. I missed it, even if I didn’t want to swallow my pride and show up to a class where I might fall short.

I thought back to my ballet class. Why not try it again? I asked myself. So I went, logistics be damned.

I was surrounded by confident regulars who seemed to already know everything. My old fears came back: People might be thinking I should move down a level (and worse, I thought they would be right). After class, the teacher announced that someone would be coming to film the class the next week. I didn’t go back.

Maybe dance classes aren’t for me, but I can still dance at home, I thought. I got a ballet DVD from the library and tried its workouts, but it didn’t hit the spot. I couldn’t stop wishing that it were actually ballet rather than ballet-inspired. It never gave me that rush I was looking for.

Then I read about another studio (this one seemed smaller and less intense) offering ballet classes, so I decided to try one more time.

Related: Shop fitness products to take your workout to the next level. 

The new studio had only one level of adult ballet classes in the evenings: It was labeled ‘beginner,’ and I was relieved that I didn’t have to pick a number to define my skill level or attempt to discern whether my ballet ability was basic, beginner, or advanced beginner (a perplexing oxymoron). I thought that might help me let go of my worries.

I bought a new lacy black leotard and float-y skirt, and wore it with pink tights and slippers. I was so nervous that I showed up early and walked right into the previous class, full of advanced children effortlessly practicing their pirouettes.

Then, finally, the teacher invited the adult students inside and called us to the barre. The pianist started playing, and I danced.

Ballet has a lot of rules. Sometimes I find it comforting to know exactly what’s expected of me. I know where I’m supposed to be. My mind quiets.

Ballet makes me feel taller, like there’s more space between each vertebrae. Now when I feel competitive in ballet class, it’s mostly with myself.

Maybe I needed time to get older and care less about other people’s opinions in order to enjoy dance. I also needed to find the right teachers for me—ones that give constructive criticism about how to improve my technique, and are more interested in body alignment than how graceful I look (or don’t look).

Ballet has a lot of rules. Sometimes I find it comforting to know exactly what’s expected of me. I know where I’m supposed to be. My mind quiets.

At the same time, I get an amazing workout. I don’t have a lot of strength yet in my arms, and sometimes when I hold my arms in second position—out to the side with a slight curve—I can feel them shaking as the muscles develop.

Related: Shop products to boost your flexibility. 

Classes often include a series of leaps and jumps that leave me breathless and my heart thumping fast, and plies—movements that involve bending knees with feet turned out and a flat back—are great for my thighs and butt. Ballet also helps me improve my flexibility, strengthen my core muscles, and work on my posture.

After years of anxiety, I finally found my way back to blissful bumbling. I feel much more connected to my body and what it can do, and I’m glad to be making progress toward not caring so much what people think. At last, I’m not afraid to make mistakes, and dance as I was always intended to—for myself.