Healthy Breakfast Foods, Recipes, and Tips for Eating Out

Start your day with a low calorie, high-protein breakfast

healthy breakfast foods, including fruit and oatmeal, on a white tabletop

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Do you start your day with healthy breakfast foods? Or do you load up on convenient, processed foods for a quick jolt of energy? If your mornings are hectic, then you need both quick energy and good nutrition. The foods you choose should be convenient, but also full of the essential ingredients to fuel your activities at work and at home. 

Use this guide to fill your kitchen with smart choices for your morning meal. And for those occasions when you can't prepare a healthy breakfast at home, scan the list at the bottom to learn where you are most likely to find a healthy fast food breakfast. 

What Is a Healthy Breakfast?

The first meal of the day should provide you with healthy carbohydrates for energy, fiber to help you feel full, protein to assist in muscle growth and maintenance, and healthy fats for satiety. Many traditional breakfast meals provide these nutrients but they are also very high in calories. A traditionally prepared meal with eggs, bacon, and toast can easily top 500 calories or more. And even "healthy" breakfast foods like oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, or avocado toast can be very high in calories, too.

To aid in weight loss or weight maintenance, it's smart to take calorie count into consideration. If breakfast is your biggest meal of the day, then 500 or 600 calories might be appropriate. But if you consume several snacks during the day, eat a medium-sized lunch, and a big dinner, then cutting calories at breakfast might be smart.

Of course, that doesn't mean that you should cut out healthy breakfast foods like whole grains or healthy fats, but you should be mindful of portion size to keep your total daily caloric intake in a healthy range. 

Healthy Breakfast Food Choices

Build your morning meal around healthy breakfast foods. These selections are full of protein and fiber, but relatively low in fat, refined sugar, and calories. These foods help to curb late morning cravings, prevent mindless eating, and improve portion control throughout the day.

Healthy Breakfast Shopping List

  • Non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Egg whites
  • Low-fat turkey breakfast sausage
  • Steel-cut oats or plain oatmeal
  • Lean ground turkey
  • Skim or low-fat milk or whole milk when used in moderation
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole-grain cereal
  • Seasonal berries 
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Fresh salsa
  • Spinach

With these ingredients, you can prepare a nutritious breakfast in advance and keep a week's worth of healthy breakfasts in the refrigerator. That way, meal preparation takes only 5-10 minutes each morning.

Breakfast Foods to Avoid

Many traditional breakfast foods are the worst foods to eat in the morning. These foods are often full of processed sugar and refined grains, high in calories and low in nutrients. While they might be easy to grab and go, they often leave you feeling hungry and crabby within an hour or so. When that happens, you may be more likely to stop at the vending machine or convenience store for junk food.

Breakfast Foods to Avoid

  • Sugary cereals
  • Bagels
  • Pastries and other sweet baked goods
  • Juice
  • Flavored coffee creamers (even the fat-free varieties)
  • Breakfast bars
  • Single-serving flavored oatmeal packets
  • Some frozen breakfast sandwiches

Healthy At-Home Breakfast Recipes and Ideas

If you can, prepare your breakfast at home. That way, you can control the ingredients and the nutrients in the meal.

Healthy Cooking Tips

Even if you don't follow a recipe, you can prepare a healthy breakfast with very little fuss. For example, protein-rich plain Greek yogurt is delicious with a ½ cup of blueberries. Or throw some crumbled turkey sausage and a handful of diced red pepper into scrambled egg whites for a spicy start to the day.

  • If you do follow one of the healthy breakfast recipes, it's helpful to have a few cooking tools on hand. If you cook eggs, make sure you have a non-stick skillet. That way you don't have to use oil or butter when you scramble or fry them.
  • When you make omelets, you can also use chicken stock instead of olive oil or butter to saute flavorful onions or shallots to add to the filling. 
  • If you like oatmeal, make a big pot of oats just once during the week. Then portion it out into single-serving containers to keep in the refrigerator and heat in the microwave each morning.

Tips for Finding a Healthier Fast Food Breakfast

If you're caught hunting for breakfast on the road, you have a few options. Many restaurants offer fresh fruit, oatmeal or Greek Yogurt.

If your only choice is to visit a fast-food joint, use these guides.

Remember, with just a little bit of planning, it's easy to make a healthy breakfast that will keep you feeling full and satisfied. Keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked with the best breakfast foods and use healthy cooking tips to keep calories and fat in control.

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  1. Kranz S, Brauchla M, Campbell WW, Mattes RD, Schwichtenberg AJ. High-Protein and High-Dietary Fiber Breakfasts Result in Equal Feelings of Fullness and Better Diet Quality in Low-Income Preschoolers Compared with Their Usual Breakfast. J Nutr. 2017;147(3):445-452. doi:10.3945/jn.116.234153