You know that healthy eating for breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, when everyone offers you donuts instead of cereal in the morning, it’s hard to say no. That’s why I have created this guide: Healthy Eating for Breakfast.
Eating unhealthy makes it hard to start your day and lays a bad foundation for the rest of your day. Use the tips in this guide to change the way you eat breakfast. You’ll feel better and have more energy throughout your day.
Healthy Eating For Breakfast
Breakfast is a great way to start your day.While some people prefer to skip breakfast, others need a source of energy to get going.If you enjoy breakfast, choosing nutritious foods may provide long-lasting energy and keep you full for hours. These foods are typically high in fiber, protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients.
While it’s best to avoid unhealthy options that are high in sugar, refined carbs, and additives, it’s not always easy to know what to choose. As such, the list below will help you build a healthy breakfast.
Here are 12 of the best foods and drinks to enjoy in the morning.
Eggs make a simple, nutritious breakfast choice.
They’re an excellent source of protein, which helps support muscle synthesis. Since protein takes a while to digest, it also helps keep you feeling full
In one study, people given eggs and toast for breakfast reported significantly less hunger than those given bran cereal, suggesting that the egg group’s higher protein intake — 25 grams versus 11 grams — promoted greater fullness
Furthermore, the egg group ate fewer calories at lunch, suggesting that this dish may support weight management
Additionally, egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants help prevent eye disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration
Eggs are also one of the best sources of choline, a vital nutrient for brain and liver health (6Trusted Source).
Contrary to popular belief, eggs don’t raise cholesterol levels in most people despite their high cholesterol content. In fact, one review of 23 studies found that eggs have a mild protective effect against heart disease.
That said, try to limit your intake of highly processed breakfast items that are commonly paired with eggs, such as breakfast sausages and bacon. Instead, eat your eggs with other nutritious foods, such as whole grain toast, whole fruit, or sautéed vegetables.
2. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is a great option if you’re looking for a quick breakfast.
It’s made by straining whey and other liquid from milk curds, which produces a creamy product that’s more concentrated in protein than regular yogurt
In addition, it’s lower in calories than other protein sources. A 1-cup (245-gram) serving boasts 25 grams of protein and only 149 calories
Plus, Greek yogurt is full of beneficial nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus
Certain types are good sources of probiotics like Bifidobacteria, which support your digestion. To make sure that your yogurt contains probiotics, look for the phrase “contains live and active cultures” on the label
If you prefer an even creamier, higher protein product, Icelandic yogurt — known as skyr — is another great option.
Try topping Greek yogurt with berries or chopped fruit to add more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Aside from water, coffee is the world’s most popular beverage. Approximately 85% of Americans drink coffee on a regular basis
It’s high in caffeine, a molecule that promotes alertness, improves mood, and increases physical and mental performance. Notably, many athletes drink coffee as a natural pre-workout beverage to support sports performance
It also contains other beneficial compounds, such as chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and diterpenes, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
In fact, regular coffee intake is associated with many health benefits, such as a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, liver disease, Parkinson’s, certain types of cancer, and even death from all causes
Most studies suggest that 1–3 cups (240–710 mL) per day — containing about 300–400 mg of caffeine — provide these benefits. Although this amount is safe for adults, you should limit yourself to 300 mg or less of caffeine per day if you’re pregnant
Finally, it’s best to drink your coffee black or with dairy or plant-based milk. Try to use sugar sparingly or avoid it altogether, as too much sugar is linked to health risks.
Oatmeal is a classic breakfast option — and it’s nutritious to boot.
It’s made from rolled or steel cut oats, which contain a unique fiber called beta glucan.
This soluble fiber not only helps reduce cholesterol levels but also promotes feelings of fullness by delaying stomach emptying and triggering the release of peptide YY, a fullness hormone that may prevent overeating.
Plus, oats are a good source of iron, B vitamins, manganese, magnesium, zinc, and selenium
They also contain around 10 grams of protein per cup (81 grams). To boost the protein content, make oatmeal with milk instead of water, mix in some protein powder, or serve it with a side of eggs
Keep in mind that oats don’t contain gluten but are often processed alongside gluten-containing grains, which increases the risk of cross contamination
Therefore, people with gluten-related disorders should choose oats that have been certified gluten-free.
5. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are extremely nutritious and a great source of fiber.In fact, just 1 ounce (28 grams) provides an impressive 10 grams of fiber per serving.What’s more, a portion of this fiber is soluble, meaning that it absorbs water and increases the volume of food moving through your digestive tract. In turn, this process helps you feel full
One small study gave participants either plain yogurt or yogurt with 7 or 14 grams of chia seeds. Both chia seed groups observed significantly more fullness, less hunger, and reduced overall food intake than the plain yogurt group .Another study found that eating chia seeds led to significantly reduced hunger compared with flaxseeds. Although both seeds are highly nutritious, the gelling properties of chia seeds may be responsible
These seeds’ high soluble fiber may likewise help stabilize blood sugar levels and support heart health .Though chia seeds aren’t high in protein, you can eat them with high protein foods, such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or a protein shake.This chia pudding recipe packs 25 grams of protein, for example.
The Healthy Food For Breakfast
Here are some healthy breakfast protein ideas for you to enjoy. These recipes provide a good balance of carbohydrate, protein and healthy fats.
- 1 ounce (28 grams) of dry chia seeds
- 1 scoop (25 grams) of whey protein powder
- 1 cup (240 mL) of coconut milk or almond milk
- 1/2 cup (74 grams) of berries
- stevia or another sweetener to taste, if desired
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Berries — including blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries — are delicious and packed with antioxidants.Most are high in fiber, which promotes fullness. In fact, raspberries and blackberries each provide an impressive 8 grams of fiber per cup (123–144 grams).Plus, 1 cup (123–144 grams) of berries contains only 50–85 calories depending on the type.
Berries also offer antioxidants called anthocyanins, which provide their characteristic blue, purple, and red colors. A diet high in anthocyanins is linked to reduced inflammation and a lower risk of illnesses like heart disease and certain types of cancer
Additionally, anthocyanins are associated with better brain health and may protect against age-related mental decline (.You can purchase berries year-round either fresh or frozen. Add them to Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, or a fruit smoothie for a tasty breakfast.
7. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a fantastic high protein breakfast item, packing an impressive 24 grams of protein per cup (220 grams) .A high protein breakfast is linked to greater fullness and reduced hunger. In fact, one study found cottage cheese to be as filling and satisfying as eggs
Cottage cheese is also low in calories, providing only 180 calories per cup (220 grams). Therefore, it may support weight loss without leaving you feeling hungry
In fact, one review associated a diet high in dairy products, especially high protein foods, with greater weight lossYou can eat cottage cheese with many other nutritious foods, such as berries, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, chia seeds, flaxseeds, or granola.
8. Whole wheat toast
If you prefer a simple breakfast in the morning, give whole wheat toast a try.Whole grain toast is high in fiber and complex carbs, which digest slowly and don’t rapidly raise blood sugar levels
You can spread any number of nutritious toppings on whole wheat toast, including:
- fried eggs and tomatoes
- avocado and chili flakes
- peanut butter and banana
- cottage cheese and strawberries
- sliced figs and honey
- sliced turkey or chicken
- baked beans
- egg salad
For extra fiber and protein, try sprouted grain bread, 2 slices of which provide around 8 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein
Nuts of all types are high in magnesium, potassium, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They’re also a great source of antioxidants .Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium. Just 2 Brazil nuts provide more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV)
Although nuts are high in calories, studies suggest you don’t absorb all of their fat.For example, some studies show that your body only absorbs about 129 calories from a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of whole almonds, though you absorb more fat from processed versions, such as almond butter Another study notes that your body only absorbs 80% of the calories from almonds and walnuts
Furthermore, nuts’ high protein, fat, and fiber contents promote fullness, which may aid weight management
Nut intake is also linked to better heart and brain health. In fact, one study associated eating peanuts and tree nuts 2 or more times per week and walnuts 1 or more times per week with a 13–19% reduced risk of heart disease
Topping Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or oatmeal with a spoonful or two of chopped nuts is a great way to increase your breakfast’s nutritional value.
10. Green tea
Green tea is a soothing drink to get you going in the morning.It contains caffeine, which improves alertness and mood. One cup (240 mL) provides only 35–70 mg of caffeine, which is about half the amount in the same serving of coffeeIt’s also high in L-theanine, a compound that promotes a calming effect and may reduce the “jitters” linked to caffeine intake. It may also improve mood and reduce anxiety
Finally, green tea provides epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant that protects against chronic ailments like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and mental decline. It may also have a mild effect on metabolism, though more research is needed
11. Protein shakes
If you’re short on time or want to take your breakfast on the go, protein shakes or smoothies are a great option.Many types of protein powder exist, but whey and pea protein are the most common.
Protein is important for many bodily functions, such as enzymatic reactions, maintaining and building muscle mass, and supporting healthy skin and hair. Plus, protein promotes fullness and reduces hunger
Additionally, a protein shake makes a great post-workout meal. Eating a large meal after a workout may be hard on your stomach, but drinking a protein shake may be easier on your stomach while still providing ample protein and nutrients for post-workout recovery
For a well-rounded breakfast, add a scoop of protein powder to a smoothie made with banana, frozen fruit, and milk or water.
If you don’t want a full meal but still crave a bite to eat in the morning, try fruit.All fruits are relatively low in calories and contain good amounts of fiber and simple sugars. The fiber in fruit helps slow your body’s absorption of its sugars, giving you a steady source of energy
Depending on the type of fruit, you’ll also get various vitamins and minerals.For example, many fruits — including oranges, guava, kiwi, strawberries, papaya, acerola cherries, and lychee — are high in vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and plays a key role in skin health
Other fruits like bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, papaya, and mango are high in potassium
Furthermore, fruits provide an array of polyphenol compounds and antioxidants depending on their color. For instance, guava is high in lycopene while purple plums pack anthocyanins. This is why it’s important to eat fruits of various colors
Research indicates that eating whole fruit may offer numerous benefits, such as a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, lower rates of depression and poor mental health, healthy aging, and better gut health
Since fruit juice lacks fiber and is less likely to keep you full, it’s best to stick with whole fruit most often
For a balanced breakfast, pair fruit with high protein foods, such as eggs, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese.
Healthiest Breakfast Foods to Supercharge Any Routine, According to Nutritionists
Eating a well-balanced breakfast that’s also tasty and exciting and can be tricky to do every single morning, especially when many people are still dealing with disrupted (and monotonous!) WFH routines or trying to transition back to an office. Whether you already eat it every day or rarely make time for breakfast, transforming the first meal of your day into a nutrient-dense meal will help you break through potential brain-fog that’s brought on by low blood sugar and slow metabolism. Regardless of what your pantry looks like right now, follow these nutritionist-approved guidelines to make breakfast more delicious (and nutritious!):
- Really try to eat breakfast every day: Skipping breakfast is one of the health field’s classic debates. But the editors at Good Housekeeping are most impressed by research that suggests a link between a balanced breakfast and optimal nutrition, especially studies like this recent Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism piece that suggests the amount of energy needed to process a meal is higher in the morning — meaning breakfast eaters burn more calories overall. We need more data to know for sure, but the case for breakfast is looking pretty good right now!
- Watch for added sugar: Your favorite breakfast may taste savory, but sugar tends to silently hide out in things like granola, oatmeal, bagels, cereals and related bars, as well as coffee, tea and juice. Reach for unsweetened products if you can (including nondairy milk beverages for your cup of morning Joe) and keep sugar counts as far below 10g per item as possible.
- Power up on produce: Breakfast salads are in! Add leftover veggies from your crisper drawer, or even fresh greens, to eggs or whatever else is on your morning plate. The added punch of fiber can help you feel fuller (and satisfied) longer.
- Lean on lean protein: Bacon is tasty, but is best in keen moderation — choose lean cuts of fish and poultry, beans, legumes, unsweetened dairy products (like yogurt!) and eggs rather than processed deli meats.
- Chew more, sip less: Eating helps many people feel more satisfied and satiated than sipping smoothies or drinks that are intended to serve as a meal replacement. Nutritious smoothies can be great for hectic mornings, but pay attention to your body and opt for solid food if you notice you’re hungry well before lunchtime.
What exactly does a balanced meal look like, you might ask? Primarily, you’re gunning for a trio of protein, fiber-packed carbohydrates and better-for-you fats — but feel free to add in as many veggies and fruit to the equation as you’d like. Avoid subbing protein or fiber-rich carbs for more fat, or vice versa; you need all three to truly get your day started right.
How to Pull Off a Complete Breakfast — Fast!
Our favorite breakfast-in-a-hurry recipes are combos of the delicious foods above that don’t require fancy prep. Here are some GH Nutrition Lab go-tos:
- Avocado toast on 1 to 2 slices sprouted grain bread with fresh arugula, two eggs and everything bagel seasoning
- 1 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt with 1/3 cup low-sugar granola and 1/2 cup fresh berries
- 3-egg white omelet with chopped veggies, 2 Tbsp. lite Mexican-Style cheese blend, 1/4 cup salsa and 1/2 sliced avocado
- Chilled overnight chia pudding
- 1 lite whole wheat english muffin with 2 Tbsp. almond butter and 1/2 cup mashed raspberries
- 1/2 to 1 cup cooked oatmeal with 1/2 cup milk of choice, plus 2 to 3 Tbsp. mixed nuts (or 1 to 2 Tbsp. nut butter) and 1 cup chopped fruit
- 2 frozen 100% whole-grain waffles with 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 1 sliced banana
- 1⁄2 to 1 roasted (or nuked!) sweet potato with 1⁄2 tablespoon nut butter, plus sliced apple, pear or banana
No matter what your peference, incorporate as many of the following ingredients into your breakfasts as possible:
Protein shakes aren’t just a quick method for stocking up on protein. “They’re also a great way to get in veggies with breakfast,” says Amy Fischer, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., a registered dietitian with the Good Housekeeping Institute. In addition to protein powder, she adds two big handfuls of spinach, non-sweetened nut milk, high-fiber fruits like berries and a dash of cinnamon to her shakes. When choosing a protein powder, Fischer recommends looking for one that’s a complete protein (meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids) and is verified by a third party (which ensures an outside company has performed quality-control testing). If you see words like organic, grass-fed, wild or non-GMO on the label, that’s a good sign, too. “Overall the fewer ingredients the better,” says Fischer. “Avoid added sweeteners, fillers and stabilizers.”
Whole grains contain antioxidants, which protect your tissues from harmful inflammation. Plus, they’re loaded with minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron — important building blocks for a strong immune system and healthy heart. The B vitamins found in whole grains also help your body convert food into energy. You can choose anything from quinoa to farro, buckwheat groats to millet as a base layer of a breakfast bowl and layer it with savory ingredients (eggs! nuts! lox!) or sweet additions (almond milk! honey!). And, yes, bread can be part of a balanced breakfast: Select a 100% whole-grain or 100% whole wheat loaf.
Bananas help you fill up and come in their own portable packaging. Their folate and vitamin B6 aids in the production of serotonin, which can help improve mood and reduce anxiety. The soluble fiber also helps 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 kick, slice bananas on top of morning oats with a tablespoon of chia seeds or walnuts.
There are many reasons why eggs are a classic breakfast staple. Full of vitamins A, D and B12, they’re an inexpensive and nutrient-dense food. Two large eggs also contain more than 50% of the choline you need each day, and just one egg has about 8 grams of protein as well. Nearly everything in our bodies requires protein to function properly, including our skin, blood, muscles and bones. Protein also takes longer to digest than carbs so you feel fuller for a longer amount of time. And GH Nutritionist Approved Eggland’s Best Cage-Free Eggs have six times more vitamin D and 10 times more vitamin E compared to ordinary eggs. For a breakfast that’s full of fiber and lean protein, try making scrambled eggs on whole-grain toast with sliced tomato or a spinach-broccoli-mushroom omelet.
Just a cup of strawberries has 3 grams of fiber and all of your day’s vitamin C needs for just 207 calories. The antioxidants found in berries (including blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries) also have cell-protecting properties. Eating more of them can help protect your blood vessels from harmful plaque and boost circulation. If berries aren’t at the top of your list, citrus fruit, apples, stone fruit, and melon are all great fruit alternatives. They’re filled with potassium to help balance blood pressure and mitigate bloat.
Yes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2020-2025 nutritional guidelines, coffee is good for you! In fact, a daily cup of black coffee (with milk or cream if you must!) may help you reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases per Harvard Medical School. It can also be a healthy way to boost energy long as you dodge high-fat dairy and copious amounts of sugar. (If you’re at a Starbucks counter, stick to items like skim lattes, which packs in 13g of protein without sugar-filled syrups.)Seeds Sesame, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, flax — the list of great-for-you seeds goes on. Add them to cereal, smoothies (or plain water!), puddings and baked goods. A single 1-ounce serving can contain 10 grams of protein! On top of that, 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 can also prevent a blood sugar spike (and subsequent crash) before lunch.
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. Whole oats have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease thanks to a type of fiber known as “beta-glucan” that research shows to improve cholesterol levels. This fiber also fuels your body’s probiotics, helping friendly bacteria in your digestive system to survive and thrive. Not sure which ones to pick? Look for GH Nutritionist Approved McCann’s Steel Cut Oats.
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. The unsaturated fats in avocado are also linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, lifestyle-related cancers, and diabetes. So go ahead and eat that trendy and tasty avocado toast — it packs in B vitamins and minerals from both avocado and whole grains. (Bonus points if you put an egg on it for extra protein!)
Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
Unsweetened plain Greek yogurt and skyr both provide protein and probiotics. Choose ones that have five strains or more of bacterial cultures listed on the label. 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. Our experts love Siggi’s (all flavors) and Fage Unsweetened Greek Yogurt. If you decide to pair it with low-sugar granola, pick one that is free of lots of unnecessary sugar.
Nuts and Nut Butter
What can’t peanut butter do?! It contains 8 grams of protein in a 2-tablespoon serving plus heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Tree nuts and peanuts in general (like GH Nutritionist Approved Hampton Farms Peanuts) have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic disease as well as weight loss or maintenance. Look for nut butters that are made from only nuts and salt with less than 140 mg of sodium per serving. Products that use oil as a stabilizer are okay, too. Nut butter packs we love: Justin’s, Barney Butter, and Wild Friends.
Black or Green Tea
Plain black or green tea is a solid zero-calorie choice! But this morning pick-me-up offers so many well-documented benefits: Green tea, in particular, can help lower cardiovascular risk and aid weight loss efforts, all while providing a calming moment in the morning rush. Just give it a try — drink 16 ounces of unsweetened black or green tea with your breakfast. It’ll give you a head start on hydrating goals for the day and make up for any overnight losses.
Just one piece of part-skim mozzarella can add 8 grams of protein (that’s the same as one egg!) to your breakfast. A half-cup of lower-sodium cottage cheese can pack up to 20 grams. Dairy also provides calcium, magnesium, and potassium that’ll aid in reducing bloat, balancing blood pressure and helping you stay energized. Use around 1⁄3 cup of cheese as the main source of protein in the meal; use 1⁄4 cup if it’s for adding flavor (e.g., an omelet).
Whether it ends up in an omelette, grain bowl or smoothie, spinach is a wonderful option at breakfast time. That’s because there are compounds in spinach that boost heart health by dilating arteries and reducing cholesterol. Plus, nitrates in spinach can keep blood sugar levels low, which is especially important for people with diabetes. On top of that, spinach also contains a suite of essential vitamins. In fact, a half-cup of frozen spinach provides 64% of the recommended daily consumption of vitamin A.
Just one medium-sized sweet potato provides almost 400% of your daily vitamin A. Its orange flesh is also rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A and is crucial for immunity. A single sweet potato also contains 15% of our daily recommended fiber intake, which can lower LDL cholesterol levels and boost your digestive health. Use sweet potato as a swap for your usual morning bread, bagel, or muffin and top it with eggs and/or avocado.
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.