Best for Breakfast!
A good breakfast should combine protein, stick-to-your-ribs fat, and some fiber-filled carbs. This is your key to feeling satisfied, energized, and not ready to eat your stapler by lunch. To make any of the breakfast combos suggested below heartier, up the veggies and/or fruit — these are unlimited as far as I’m concerned, especially at breakfast.
If you’re already a breakfast eater and you know that adding more veggies and fruit isn’t going to make you feel more satisfied, then it’s pretty likely that you’re not getting enough protein at breakfast. Add an extra egg, more nuts or nut butter, or some leftover chicken — you get the picture.
Oats are one of the best foods we can eat for a number of reasons. As a 100% whole-grain, they’re filled with fiber, plant-based protein, B-vitamins, and minerals, including iron, calcium, and magnesium. They’ve been linked to reduced risk of heart disease thanks to a type of fiber called beta-glucan that has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. This fiber also fuels for your body’s probiotics, helping friendly bacteria to survive and thrive.
Full of vitamins A, D, and B12, eggs are an inexpensive and nutrient-dense ingredient. Two large eggs contain more than 50% of the choline you need each day, which affects memory, mood, and muscle control. Just one egg has about 8 grams of protein as well. Nearly everything in our bodies requires protein, such as our skin, blood, and bones. Protein takes longer to digest than carbs, keeping you fuller, longer. Make breakfast a combo of filling fiber and lean protein, like scrambled eggs on whole-grain toast with sliced tomato or a spinach-broccoli-mushroom omelet. Or grab a couple of hard-boiled eggs if you’re on the go.
Sesame, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, flax … The list of great-for-you seeds goes on. Add them to cereal, smoothies, puddings, and even baked goods. Just 1 ounce can contain 10 grams of protein! The zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium in seeds will help you stay healthy and boost immunity. Seeds also contain soluble fiber that can help lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) while increasing “good” cholesterol (HDL). The combination of protein and fiber is really optimal when it comes to preventing a blood sugar spike (and subsequent crash).
Frozen waffles are an easy, delicious swap for toast. Look for water or 100% whole grains as the first ingredient, and keep the added sugar content as low as possible. Kashi Whole-Grain Waffles are filled with fiber and protein and contain just 3 grams of sugar for two. Use them as for sandwich bread with eggs or top with 2 tablespoons of nut butter, cinnamon, and chocolate chips for a treat. Van’s’ 8 Whole Grains version tastes similar.
Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
Unsweetened plain Greek yogurt and skyr both provide probiotic benefits. Choose ones that have five strains or more of bacterial cultures per 6-ounce serving. It’s also a great choice if you’re aiming for lower-sugar breakfasts but still like a sweet flavor in the morning — just add fruit! Greek yogurt is full of calcium and many versions get fortified with vitamin D. It also merits an A+ for its high protein content. Our Nutrition Lab loves Siggi’s (all flavors), Fage Unsweetened Greek Yogurt, and Clio Bars (chocolate-coated and super-filling).
Bananas help you fill up and come in their own portable packaging. The folate and vitamin B6 in bananas aid in the production of serotonin, which can help improve mood and reduce anxiety. The soluble fiber will also help lower cholesterol by removing it from your GI tract and preventing it from moving into your bloodstream (i.e., clogging your arteries). For an extra heart-healthy boost, slice bananas on top of morning oats with a tablespoon of chia seeds or walnuts.
Black Tea or Coffee
There’s a slew of studies that link the antioxidants and caffeine found in unsweetened tea and coffee to health benefits, including decreased risk of chronic disease and weight management. Black coffee or tea is always a zero-calorie choice. My pro tip: Drink 16 ounces of water or unsweetened tea or coffee before you head out the door in the morning. This will help you get a head start on your hydration goals for the day and ensure you’re making up for overnight losses.
This is the one exception to the whole “don’t drink your calories at breakfast” rule. By making a large (16 ounces and up) latte a part of your breakfast, you’re getting around 13 grams of protein! It’s a great solution when you’re pinched for time. Since milk is 80% water but also contains minerals such as calcium and potassium, it can help you hydrate with both fluid and electrolytes. Skip flavored syrups, sugar, caramel, or deceptive calorie bombs in pre-sweetened drinks. Choose coffee–based beverages like café au laits, lattes, or mistos with low-fat milk or unsweetened plant-based alternatives, like soy milk.
100% Whole-Grain Toast
Whole grains provide antioxidant benefits, protecting your tissues from harmful, inflammation-causing damage. Plus, they’re loaded with minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron — key to your overall immunity and heart health. The B vitamins found in whole grains also help your body convert food into energy.
These fruits have a unique mix of heart-healthy fats, water, and dietary fiber. That combo enhances feelings of fullness, making you less likely to overeat throughout the rest of the day. A winning breakfast combo? Avocado toast, which packs B vitamins and minerals from both avocado and whole grains. (Bonus points if you put an egg on it for extra protein!). The unsaturated fats in avocado are also linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, lifestyle-related cancers, and diabetes.