How to Make a Healthy Breakfast for Weight Loss

Tips, Calorie Guides, and Nutrition Advice for Your Morning Meal

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Healthy Weight Loss Breakfast
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A hearty breakfast can boost your energy and mental focus in the morning. Eating a morning meal that provides healthy fats and protein help you to feel full and energized as you navigate through your daily activities.

But some people may also try to reduce breakfast calories in order to reach a weight loss goal. To cut calories while keeping your breakfast nutrition, use these time-saving breakfast tips and nutritional guidance designed specifically for weight loss.

How Many Breakfast Calories Do You Need?

Some of the most popular breakfast foods are high in fat and calories. For example, eggs cooked in butter, sausage, bacon, a peanut butter smoothie, and even oatmeal with toppings can boost your total energy intake substantially—making it harder to lose weight.

But if you skimp on breakfast calories and have a small snack bar or a cup of coffee, you're likely to get hungry around 10 or 11 a.m. At that point, you might reach for whatever's handy to curb those hunger pangs, putting your weight loss goals in jeopardy.

Determine Your Breakfast Calorie Count

There is no magical number of calories in the perfect breakfast for weight loss. When you see lists that focus on 300-calorie or 500-calorie breakfasts, that doesn't mean that 300 or 500 is the right number of calories to eat in the morning. Everyone's number is different.

One way to determine your needs is to use hunger and satiety cues. That is, eat foods that help you to feel satisfied and energized, and eat enough of them to feel full.

If you want to use a calorie goal, first determine the total number of calories you need to eat every day to lose weight. Then divide the calories by the number of meals and snacks you consume during the day. This project is likely to take some experimentation. There is no right or wrong answer.

Breakfast Calorie Examples

The right number of calories for your healthy breakfast depends on your lifestyle, activity schedule, weight-loss goal, and personal preferences. These sample meal plans take those factors into account.

More Calories in the Morning

Jennifer's goal is to consume 1,200 calories per day to lose weight. She prefers to exercise after work and go to bed early, so she doesn't eat a lot at night. That means she can load up her calories in the morning and afternoon.

  • Breakfast: 400 calories
  • Lunch: 400 calories
  • Pre-workout snack: 200 calories
  • Post workout snack: 200 calories

Bigger Afternoon and Evening Meals

Bill's goal is to consume 1800 calories per day to lose weight. He works out at lunchtime and prefers to exercise on an empty stomach. But he finds that he gets very hungry in the hours after his workout. So his intake is steady in the morning but allows for him to consume more calories in the late afternoon and early evening.

  • Breakfast smoothie: 400 calories
  • Light pre-workout snack: 100 calories
  • Post-workout lunch: 600 calories
  • Dinner: 600 calories
  • Snack before bed: 100 calories

Steady All-Day Energy

Mary is a stay-at-home mom and her routine requires her to be active from 7 a.m. until about 10 p.m. She needs steady energy throughout the day, but in order to lose weight, she needs to consume about 1,400 calories per day.

  • Breakfast: 300 calories
  • Snack: 100 calories
  • Lunch: 300 calories
  • Snack: 100 calories
  • Dinner: 500 calories
  • After dinner snack: 100 calories

Healthy Foods for a Weight Loss Breakfast

Now it's time to choose the best breakfast foods to help you lose weight. Nutritional quality matters at every meal, but it is especially important in the morning.

Nutritional experts have found that people who choose starchy or sugary foods in the morning are very likely to get hunger cravings and make poor food choices in the 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. time frame as a result.

For example, how many times have you grabbed a bagel or a muffin for breakfast, only to be craving a coffee drink or a soda later in the morning? To avoid this very common pitfall, choose nutrient-dense foods for your morning meal.

That means foods that provide fiber and protein, because these nutrients help you to feel full longer. Foods with fat are also satisfying and filling, but they can also make you feel heavy and tired.

Breakfast Swaps

Of course, choosing quality calories doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite foods. It just means that you have to make a few healthy adjustments.


If you love bagels, keep them on the menu. But choose a whole grain bagel, and top it with salmon and a small amount of cream cheese. You can even scoop out the bready middle to reduce calories and carbohydrates. Enjoy the bagel with a handful of fiber-rich, low-calorie, and naturally sweet raspberries.


If you love oatmeal, keep eating it! But avoid the single-serve flavored oatmeal packets. While these are good for portion control, they often contain added sugar. Instead, make your own batch of rolled oats or steel-cut oatmeal ahead of time.

You can even make a week's worth, store it in the fridge and have it ready to microwave in single serve containers. Top the grains with fresh blueberries, chopped almonds, or even sliced apple to get the savory flavor or sweetness that you desire.

Bacon and Eggs

Are you a bacon and eggs eater in the morning? You're not alone. You don't have to ditch this routine, but to keep the fat and calories under control, you may want to switch up the way you prepare these foods.

Make your egg(s) in a non-stick skillet with no added fat. You can also blend whole eggs with egg whites to cut fat and calories. Turkey bacon is sometimes (but not always) lower in fat and calories than traditional pork bacon. Or enjoy your eggs with a slice of ham.


Many cereals provide a healthy dose of good nutrition—especially those that are made with whole grains. The key is to keep an eye on portion control.

Measure your cereal, keeping in mind that a single serving is usually one cup. Then add milk or a plant-based milk alternative and finish the bowl without pouring more cereal in to "use up" the remaining milk. Top with berries for even more filling fiber.

Breakfast Myths

Now that you know what to eat and how much of it to eat, it's time to address a few myths about a healthy weight loss breakfast. Unfortunately, there are common misconceptions about breakfast that can easily derail your diet. See if you've fallen for any of these trendy (but faulty) headlines.

  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Nope! All meals matter. It's your total nutrition throughout the day that impacts your health and weight loss success.
  • Eating breakfast boosts your metabolism. We all burn calories when we eat; it's a phenomenon called the thermic effect of food. Our bodies require energy to process food. But breakfast doesn't have any greater effect on your metabolism than any other meal.
  • Skipping breakfast can make your body go into starvation mode. It would make sense that breaking the fast in the morning is good for your body. But your body won't go into starvation mode, retain fat, or slow your metabolism if you skip the meal. Many people skip breakfast with great success. You just need to make sure that you don't binge later in the morning because of extreme hunger.

Breakfast Dos and Don'ts

  • Watch your portions

  • Prep meals ahead

  • Make low-cal smoothies

  • Drink a lot of liquid calories

  • Overuse creamer

  • Underestimate "to-go" calories


Consider measuring portions: It's easy to lose track of portion control in the morning when you are rushing. Using portion control tools may help some people reach their goals. Try keeping pre-measured scoops in boxes of cereal, nuts, seeds or oats. Or keep a digital scale on the counter to measure things like cheese or meats.

Make foods in advance: The easiest way to enjoy a stress-free breakfast is to make it at a time when you are not rushed and have it ready to go each morning. Make oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, or other cooked protein foods in advance. Wash and chop fruits and veggies and keep them in single serve containers.

Make a smart smoothie: Smoothies can be a great breakfast solution when you are too busy for a nutritious sit-down meal. But smoothies can also be huge calorie bombs if you don't measure ingredients (especially healthy but high-calorie items like almonds or peanut butter).

Be mindful of what you add to the blender. Choose a few healthy ingredients like berries, dark leafy greens, or veggies. Then add a healthy fat like a tablespoon of chia seeds, flaxseed, or almonds, and finally top it off with a low-calorie liquid. Water is a smart choice, but you can also use skim milk or low-calorie almond milk.


Drink a lot of liquid calories: Juice is one of the worst foods for weight loss. Why? Because it is high in sugar and calories and provides less nutritional value than whole fruit, since it lacks fiber. Juice can also be expensive. Instead, enjoy flavored water, coffee, or tea with breakfast.

Overuse creamer: It's easy to pour flavored creamer or heavy cream into the coffee cup without really keeping track of how much we're using. The result is that if you consume several cups of coffee, you might also be adding substantial calories to your daily total.

Underestimate your coffee shop calories: If your morning routine includes a trip to Starbucks or another coffee shop, use the online or smartphone app to calculate calories before you order. Some coffee drinks have more calories than a full meal.

A Word From Verywell

Remember, the most important thing about making a healthy breakfast for weight loss is the way it fits into your complete program to lose weight. Balance your calories throughout the day to keep your goals and your hunger in line.

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6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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