To many of us breakfast means bagels, toast, home fries, donuts, cold cereal, a bowl of fruit, or a sugary yogurt. It’s understandable that we crave these foods in the morning because after a nightlong fast, our bodies crave energy fast, which the brain equates to quick carbs that turn to sugar more easily in the bloodstream for fuel. And while all carbs are not equal, many of them even being good for us, we need to focus more on protein and fiber in the morning instead of sugary and refined starchy foods. Fiber is found in many carbohydrates, but also found in many lower starch and natural, sugar-free foods. Many of them are even high in protein too.

The Power of Protein and Fiber

The powerful combination of protein and fiber is like a masterful weapon at stoking your metabolism, boosting your brain health to aid in focus and mood, and slows down your insulin levels to balance your blood sugar and help you crave less throughout the day. Research has even shown that eating protein and fiber in the morning directly lead to weight loss. Refined starches and sugars on the other hand? They directly lead to weight gain and cause you to be more hungry throughout the day. So if you’re trying to lose or manage your weight, or just eat a great post-workout meal to fuel your body, then load up on these plant-based protein options that are also high in fiber, whole food based, and naturally free of sugar.

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Your body and brain are going to thank you all day for eating more of these in the AM!

1. Hemp Seeds or Hemp Protein Powder

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Hemp seeds are some of the best sources of both protein and fiber, not to mention omega-3 fatty acids and iron. They’re perfect for grain-free eaters and can be used in everything from smoothies, protein bars, or tossed into a bowl of oatmeal for a more filling factor. Per 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds, you’ll get 10 grams of protein and in 1/4 cup hemp seed protein powder, you’ll get 15 grams of protein. You can buy hemp protein at most health food stores or online, which is only made from raw hemp seeds to use too. Hemp seeds are one of the best proteins to lower your blood sugar since they’re also high in magnesium. See more about this plant-based protein star here!

2. Tahini

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Every Green Monster needs tahini in their lives — plain and simple. Made from raw sesame seeds, raw tahini is creamy, savory, and adds a wonderful flavor to sweet dishes like this overnight oatmeal recipe. It brings a natural nuttiness, 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein! See how to make your own tahini here and feel free to add it to your next protein smoothie in place of almonds butter or peanut butter for something new.

3. Chia Seeds

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Chia seeds are a well-known source of fiber, and they’re not too shabby in the protein department either. One fourth of a cup of chia seeds will provide you with 8 grams of protein, 14 grams of fiber, and your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Make chia pudding, use them in a smoothie, or make these yummy breakfast bars to keep you full all morning long!

4. Coconut Flour

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This grain-free flour is made from nothing but raw coconut. Be sure to buy it raw and organic (unbleached) which has a better flavor and higher amounts of enzymes to aid in digestion. Coconut flour provides 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup, is completely free of additives and sugar, is starch-free, and has 6 grams of fiber per 2 tablespoons! You can use it in smoothies to thicken things up fast, add a naturally sweet, almost cake-like flavor with no sugar, or you can stir it into oats to make things more filling and add protein and fiber. Learn more about this amazing food here and check out why coconut is great for your muscles to learn even more!

5. Almonds or Almond Butter

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Almonds and almond butter are a great choice of protein, with 7 grams found in 2 tablespoons of almond butter or in 1/4 cup whole almonds. Be sure to use them plain without salt and added sugars if possible as the healthiest option; if you buy them raw, even better since they go through less processing and retain more nutrition. Either way, these can be added to a smoothie, oats, or just eaten with some fruit for a quick meal. You could also top unsweetened coconut or soy yogurt with almonds and almond butter, stir in some berries, and you’ve got yourself a well-balanced meal in under one minute.

6. Quinoa

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Quinoa is also a great protein option, providing 6 grams of protein in 1/4 cup. Like hemp seeds, it’s also one of the only complete sources of protein found in seeds. Quinoa cooks up like a grain and as a result, makes the perfect replacement to sugary cereals. Try this high-protein breakfast bowl that features quinoa, almonds and chia seeds — talk about a protein-packed powerhouse meal!

7. Oats

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When all else fails, oats are always there. These grains are one of the most unique carbohydrates because they’re higher in protein than most grains (7 grams per 1/3 cup), lower in starch than wheat and even healthy options like millet, and very high in fiber (6 grams per 1/3 cup). Oats also keep you full a long time and can be paired with chia and coconut flour, or even hemp seeds or hemp protein for a more filling meal. Try all of our oatmeal recipesfor breakfast ideas and more.

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8. Pumpkin Seeds or Pumpkin Protein Powder

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Everyone should be eating pumpkin seeds! These seeds are packed with protein, providing 10 grams in just 1/4 cup! They’re also one of the most overlooked sources of iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. They contain 5 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup and can even be bought in the form of pumpkin seed protein for more protein, fiber, and absolutely no sugar or starch. You can use either one in a smoothie, oats, eat them with some fruit, or blend pumpkin seeds in a food processor to make your own pumpkin seed butter. Learn more about pumpkin seed protein here and check out how and why to add more pumpkin seeds to your diet if you don’t already enjoy them.

9. Tofu and Veggies

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To skip the cholesterol in eggs, have a tofu frittata or tofu scramble instead, but be sure to add some veggies to get enough fiber. Tofu is a complete sources of protein, providing 8 grams per 1/2 cup of chopped tofu. It’s also much less processed than soy burgers or soy sausages. If you eat soy, tofu makes for a nice savory breakfast option, but you’ll need to be sure to add some flavor since like egg whites, it doesn’t taste like much on its own. Veggies will provide a hearty dose of whole-food based fiber, and will help keep you full even longer.

10. Spinach

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Spinach is one of the best sources of plant-based protein. It has 5 grams per cup, which is pretty awesome since it’s a low-calorie leafy green. Though not a complete sources, spinach can be added to anything like a filling breakfast smoothie or savory vegan breakfast. Use 2 cups in a smoothie for 10 easy-to-get grams of protein or try this Easy Spinach and Pepper Quiche. Kale may be a superstar for your health, but it doesn’t rival spinach in terms of protein content. The bottom line? Eat Popeye’s favorite green a little more often — he knew what he was doing!

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See all of our protein recipes here for more ideas, and check out our guides to Plant-Based Protein and Why Fiber is the Secret to Long Term Health for more information on these healthy must-have nutrients!

What’s your favorite high protein, plant-based meal or your favorite way to get more fiber in your diet?

Lead Image Source: Rubyran/Flickr