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Healthy Breakfast Ideas

As the first meal you eat in the morning, breakfast sets the tone for the rest of your day. Despite this, an estimated 31 million people skip breakfast every morning (NPD, 2011), with most saying they are too busy or just do not feel hungry. Coming up with convenient, healthy breakfast ideas can help you increase your energy intake early in the day.

Why Is Breakfast So Important?

People sometimes mistakenly believe that skipping breakfast is a good way to cut extra calories from their diet. Unfortunately, this plan often backfires. Scientific research suggests that successful dieters are significantly more likely to eat breakfast than those who fail to lose weight (Wyatt, 2002). Indeed, a dietary intervention performed with obese women found that eating a high-calorie breakfast was associated with greater weight loss than eating an equivalent amount of calories at dinner (Jakubowicz, Barnea, Wainstein, & Frey, 2013).

So what makes breakfast so important? One reason that breakfast is a critical meal is that it jumpstarts your metabolism in the morning. The amount of time that passes between dinner and the first meal of the morning is the longest your body typically goes without food. Eating right away provides your body with energy that impacts your metabolism for the rest of the day (Consumer Reports, 2015). Additionally, people who skip breakfast tend to have increased levels of ghrelin, a hormone that has been associated with hunger. This may cause you to feel hungrier later in the morning, leading to overeating or an energy crash.

Components of a Healthy Breakfast

Of course, not all breakfasts are created equal. Crafting a healthy breakfast requires an eye for portion size and nutrient balance. The key is to get a good balance of carbohydrates and lean protein. Carbohydrates are the molecules that your body uses for energy (MacMillan, 2015). Eating carbohydrates in the morning gives your body an energy boost, providing you with easily digestible nutrients. Meanwhile, eating protein tends to increase your satiety after a meal. Getting enough protein can also stabilize your blood sugar, preventing a crash in blood glucose levels that leads to mid-morning cravings.

Although carbohydrates are an important part of breakfast, not all carbs are created equal. For instance, a doughnut is high in carbohydrates, mostly in the form of simple carbs such as sugar. Eating a large portion of simple carbohydrates causes your blood glucose levels to rise suddenly and fall quickly. In contrast, complex carbohydrates provide a more sustained source of energy (American Diabetes Association, 2015). Additionally, many whole grain foods that are high in complex carbohydrates also contain dietary fiber. Dietary fiber promotes digestive regularity and blood glucose stability.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

A healthy breakfast is a simple formula: complex carbohydrates plus protein plus fruit. Regarding complex carbohydrates, consider making steel cut oats, buckwheat pancakes, whole-grain toast, bran cereal, oat bran muffins, or muesli. Then, add a source of protein. This could be eggs, yogurt, a glass of milk, a protein smoothie, peanut or almond butter, or cottage cheese. Finally, add a piece of fruit to round out your meal. Most fruits naturally contain fiber, which helps to increase satiety and promote healthy cholesterol levels (American Diabetes Association, 2015). Plus, fruits contain few calories for their size, keeping you full for longer.

If you are the type of person who skips breakfast because you are too busy, also consider convenience when choosing your meal. For instance, making a serving of steel cut oats the night before cuts back on the time spent cooking in the morning. If that is still too much effort, a cup of Greek yogurt with an apple or banana can be enough to get your body going.

When planning your breakfast, also keep in mind the beverages you drink. A glass of milk is a good choice, as one cup of nonfat milk contains 8 grams of protein and no added sugars (although milk does naturally contain the sugar lactose) (Self Nutrition Data, 2015). Drinking green tea with breakfast can be another healthy choice, as this drink has been shown to promote weight loss (Hursel, Viechtbauer, & Westerterp-Plantenga, 2009). Although fruit juice can be tempting, make sure you find a brand that contains 100% juice. Many fruit juices contain added sugars that can cause your blood sugar levels to spike.

Staying Healthy While Dining Out

Dining out for breakfast presents a particular type of challenge. Many restaurants serve breakfast and brunch foods that tip the scales at 800 or more calories. Anything topped with whipped cream or served with a pile of home fries is likely to be on the unhealthy end of the spectrum.

However, you can still enjoy eating out while sticking to your healthy breakfast principles. For instance, if you are on the go, Starbucks makes protein-rich bistro boxes that contain fruit, a hard-boiled egg, multigrain bread, and peanut butter (Ansel, 2014). If you are at a diner or sit-down restaurant, look for a breakfast sandwich. Eating an egg on a English muffin can be a healthy choice, particularly if the sandwich includes avocado, spinach, or other vegetables. An omelet is another good choice, as you can ask your server to swap the whole eggs for egg whites to reduce your saturated fat intake. If your desired breakfast is served with an unhealthy side, ask if you can swap it for fresh fruit or a cup of cottage cheese.

Healthy Breakfast Recipes

A few samples of our favorite breakfast recipes are included below, but for a more comprehensive list- we encourage you to check out our breakfast recipes page.

Moringa Oatmeal

Moringa Oatmeal Recipe

Moringa in the morning is a surprisingly satisfying way to start the day. Enjoy this wholly wholesome oatmeal dish for enduring energy and a nutritious dish that keeps your diet on point!
Ingredients: Gluten-free rolled oats, almond milk, agave or maple syrup, vanilla extract, moringa powder, pistachios, dried mulberries, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 324-gram servings

Quinoa Pancakes

Quinoa Pancakes Recipe

Pancakes are a classic, but the right mix makes all the difference when crafting the ideal flapjack. Quinoa as a base creates a cunning blend of nutrition and savor in the base of this scrumptious stackable.
Ingredients: Quinoa, whole wheat pastry flour (or brown rice flour for gluten-free cakes), eggs, milk, maple syrup or honey, raw pecans, baking powder, vanilla extract, salt.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 7 pancakes

Healthy Breakfast Foods & Ingredients

The following products act as a great way of adding needed nutrients to your morning meal. Simply select your favorite foods and keep them on-hand in your pantry to ensure you always have a healthy way to start the day.

References

American Diabetes Association (2015). Types of carbohydrates. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/types-of-carbohydrates.html

Ansel, K. (2014). The healthiest fast food breakfasts. Cooking Light. Retrieved from http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/smart-choices/healthy-fast-food-breakfasts

Choose My Plate (2015). Why is it important to eat fruit? Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruits-nutrients-health

Consumer Reports (2015). Why eating the right breakfast is so important. Retrieved from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/10/why-eating-the-right-breakfast-is-so-important/index.htm

Hursel, R. Viechtbauer, W., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M.S. (2009). The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight management: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity, 33, 956-961.

Jakubowicz, D., Barnea, M., Wainstein, J., & Froy, O. (2013). High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity, 21(12), 2504-2512.

MacMillan, A. (2015). The 20 best foods to eat for breakfast. Health. Retrieved from http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20676415,00.html

NPD (2011). 31 million U.S. consumers skip breakfast each day, reports NPD. Retrieved from https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/pr_111011b/

Self Nutrition Data (2015). Milk nonfat. Retrieved from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/7578/2

Wyatt, H.R. (2002). Long-term weight loss and breakfast in subjects in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity, 10(2), 78-82.