If you want to feel and look your best, always eat a proper breakfast to help get you off on the right foot. According to studies conducted by Rush University Medical Center, carving out time to feed yourself nutritious foods in the morning gets your metabolism going early by letting your body know it’s okay to burn calories throughout the day. The studies indicate that eating breakfast has multifaceted benefits, including a lowered body mass index and improved mental focus.
As per studies run by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, consuming a healthy breakfast is key to losing weight, indicating that the first meal of the day should comprise 25 to 30 percent of a person’s daily intake of calories. It’s recommended that you skip fatty processed meats and sugary carbs, instead opting for energy-giving foods that are high in protein.
As eating breakfast jump starts your day and helps you stay slim, perhaps you’re wondering: what exactly are the ideal foods to eat and which ones should you avoid? While some of the answers may seem intuitive, you might be surprised by others. Read on to find out which nutritious foods you ought to include in your daily a.m. routine as well as the ones you can skip altogether.
Cheap and healthy? Cue the eggs!
Do yourself a favor and start eating eggs for breakfast if you’re not already doing so. They are refreshingly inexpensive and can be cooked in any number of ways. Whether you enjoy them hard-boiled, poached, or scrambled, you’ll find these miracle orbs to be the perfect morning food. Eggs are a rich and complete source of protein, which helps to keep you going throughout the morning. They also contain nutrients such as betaine and choline, which contribute to cardiac health. A single egg is chock-full of vitamins such as B-2 (to turn food into energy), B-12 (to create red blood cells), A (to improve eyesight), and E (to help prevent cell damage that causes cancer). Not too shabby! In case you have any trouble incorporating eggs into your morning routine, I want to offer up some ideas that are as nutritious as they are delicious.
This recipe from Real Simple is elegant and perfectly balanced. Crusty bread slices are topped with asparagus, a splash of olive oil, poached eggs, and a little Parmesan. Love yourself a breakfast sandwich? Try this recipe from Fitness magazine. Whole grain English muffin sandwiches a protein-forward filling of scrambled egg whites, spinach, cheddar cheese, and tomato. Or try this veggie-loaded omelet recipe from MyRecipes.com to charge up your morning battery. It’s easy to prepare and totally customizable, so feel free to mix it up with whatever vegetables you have on hand or that happen to be in season.
Go Greek when it comes to yogurt
Thicker and creamier than regular yogurt with a subtle tang, Greek yogurt tastes like a dream, but it also happens to be good for you. Yay! It’s an excellent source of probiotics, the nutritious bacteria that aid in digestive health. Like several other types of dairy, Greek yogurt provides you with the calcium, magnesium, and potassium your body requires on the reg. And since Greek yogurt has twice as much protein as standard yogurt, it helps make you feel full for a longer period. As it also boasts a rich texture akin to foods that are much fattier and higher in calories, Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute in recipes where you would normally go for sour cream, buttermilk, or cream cheese. Here are some fun and tasty ways you can enjoy Greek yogurt for breakfast in case you need some inspo.
I love this Greek yogurt bowl blueprint from Modern Honey for its adaptability to personal taste. From berries and tropical fruits to toasted coconut and dark chocolate, you’ll encounter no shortage of wonderful ways to use Greek yogurt as the base for a nutritious a.m. meal. This streamlined recipe from Healthy Smoothie HQ makes it easy and inexpensive to prepare a nutritious smoothie for breakfast on the go. With just a Greek yogurt base, a little honey, a dash of cinnamon, and low-sugar blueberries, you can make yourself a vibrant and nourishing breakfast in about five minutes. Parfait means "perfect" in French, and this breakfast cup from Chobani is exactly that. It doesn’t get easier than layering Greek yogurt with granola and fresh berries. Enjoy!
Keep it regular with oatmeal
Oatmeal is a whole grain with a long list of health benefits. Fixing yourself a bowl in the morning can lower your risk for diseases such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, aid in weight loss if you’re watching your hourglass figure, and lower your cholesterol. Since it’s important to start your body right, oatmeal is an especially ideal food for breakfasts. A great source of fiber, it works well as a blank canvas for other nutritious toppings. Think fresh fruits that are low in sugar content, hearty nuts, and calcium-rich milk. Since it can be prepared ahead or on the morning of, oatmeal is an easy way to get the nutrients your body craves come breakfast time. If you’re not convinced, check out these easy recipes that make eating oatmeal downright joyful.
This warming take on oatmeal from Joy the Baker is inspired by nutty carrot muffins, so you know it’s good. Steel-cut oats are cooked with shredded carrot and coconut and fragrant spices. Mmmm. If the recipe on the back of the back of the oatmeal canister fails to inspire you, try this recipe from The Faux Martha instead. Think perfect proportions. When it comes to oatmeal, don’t settle. This blueberry oatmeal from The New York Times is nourishing, soothing, and takes about 10 minutes to cook. Seasoned with cinnamon and honey, this is a truly comforting breakfast for any day of the week.
A grapefruit a day keeps the doctor away
Grapefruits are beloved for their health benefits as well as their distinctive bright tart flavor. According to Live Science, this popular citrus is rich in vitamins and nutrients, making it the ideal fruit to consume for breakfast. An excellent source of fiber (to keep you regular) and folate (to help generate new cells), grapefruits also contain antioxidants that boost immunity. Their high fiber content helps keep you feeling full longer, hence you eat less and lose weight. Moreover, their vitamin C content is said to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Whether you add grapefruit juice to a salad vinaigrette or enjoy one with a dollop of yogurt, you’ll find that grapefruit can be an awesome addition to your breakfast routine. Hopefully, these ideas can help you get started on a rewarding citrus adventure.
If you enjoy a little sweet treat at breakfast time, let’s be friends. Then check out this quick recipe from Fine Cooking. Grapefruit halves are topped with honey, vanilla, and cardamom, then broiled until the tops are perfectly charred and caramelized. This recipe from Once a Month Meals uses grapefruit zest and juice to flavor sweet balls made with rolled oats, whole wheat flour, and applesauce. Healthy breakfast on the run? Yes, please. Add grapefruit sections to a breakfast fruit salad with this recipe from Health.com. Tossed with banana slices, fresh mint, and honey, this refreshing concoction will make your taste buds sing.
Avocados are everything
Avocados are wildly popular due to their creamy texture and rich flavor. Incredibly delicious, they also happen to be a great source of so-called good unsaturated fats and vitamin E. As they are high in fat and hence, calories, they should be eaten regularly but not daily. They possess a wide range of vitamins and nutrients, including potassium, fiber, and folate. When eaten in moderation, avocados can help to decrease the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. A 2013 study funded by the Hass Avocado Board suggests that overweight test subjects who ate about half of an avocado a day felt fuller than those who didn’t, owing to the high fiber content in these fruits. With its natural good taste, avocados are a natural choice for nutritious yet tasty breakfast concoctions. Here are a few.
This recipe for avocado and egg "pizza" makes creative use of the healthy fruit. With no baking involved, the crust is topped with lemony avocado mash and cooked in a skillet. Top with fried eggs for the ultimate breakfast dish. If you’re a fan of the breakfast burrito, try this recipe from Gimme Some Oven ASAP. Loaded with scrambled eggs, black beans, cheese, and colorful veggies, this wrap promises to keep you full until lunchtime. Make your avo toast fancy with this recipe from Half Baked Harvest. Whole grain bread is slathered with zesty harissa and avocado mash, then topped with goat cheese and poached eggs.
Say no to supermarket breakfast cereals
You’re probably familiar with the usual suspects in the cereal aisle — Froot Loops, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, and the like. While the media may show countless images of children and adults starting the day with bowls of cereal, that doesn’t mean cereal is an ideal food for breakfast time. Many of these processed cereals are loaded with sugar, which tastes good momentarily but will certainly not help to maintain your energy levels for the duration of the morning. A 2011 study conducted by the Environmental Working Group showed that on average, 1 cup of cereal contains more sugar than three chocolate chip cookies. And since no one eats just 1 cup of cereal, you’ll be eating way more sweetened carbs than you ever set out to. Yikes!
Save pancakes for special occasions
While pancakes are undeniably tasty, they may not be the best choice for breakfast — other than once in a while. As they’re often made with refined flour, much of the nutrients have been removed, leaving you with carbs that don’t help you feel full. Moreover, you’re likely to enjoy your stack of pancakes with generous pats of butter (fat alert) and syrup (sugar overload). Between the sugar and the refined flour, you’re consuming way more carbohydrates than you ought to be before lunchtime. Eating pancakes on the reg hence increases your risk of obesity and dangerous forms of diabetes.
Muffins are a little too similar to cupcakes
Don’t fool yourself. Muffins are marketed as healthy breakfast foods, but they’re essentially small cakes loaded with sugar. While you may be able to control the sugar levels a little bit more if you make them from scratch, the ones you buy at the bakery or supermarket are bound to contain more sugar than is healthy for a.m. consumption. Between the refined flour, the sugar, and the processed oils, you’re really left with just one reasonably good source of nutrients: eggs. That’s not enough! Additionally, store-bought muffins are enormous, which turns portion control into an epic challenge. And forget about add-ins like dried fruit or chocolate chips, which only serve to increase the sugar content in muffins.
Don’t bother with the OJ
My best friend learned from her doctor during the course of her pregnancy that orange juice consumption is a big no-no — at least if you’re trying to avoid hunger pangs, excessive weight gain, and diseases associated with too much sugar in your diet. If you think that only artificially sweetened fruit juices are bad, think again. Even 100 percent varieties are loaded with sugar. Having too much juice makes your blood sugar rise rapidly because there’s nothing fibrous or fatty in it to slow down the process. As a result, your insulin level will eventually shoot up while your blood sugar takes a dive, leaving you feeling all manners of strange. Think hungry and moody.
Skip the jam-on-toast scam
Listen, I love spreading jam on my morning toast as much as the next person, but at some point I just had to reign it in. While we are told by society at large that toast and jam belong together like Romeo and Juliet, the results can be deadly. OK, maybe they aren’t as deadly together as the lovers of the famous Shakespearean play, but the pairing still isn’t great. If you top your bread (hello, carbs) with jam (oh hey, more carbs) you’d basically be consuming the not-so-illustrious Complete Carb Diet. Ummmm.
You eat some, you lose some. Goodbye to all that. Luckily, you’ll still be left with plenty of nutritious food options come breakfast time.