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Despite what you may have heard, eating breakfast isn’t necessary for everyone.
In fact, skipping breakfast may be better than eating unhealthy breakfast foods.
However, a nutritious, well-balanced breakfast can give you energy and prevent you from eating too much during the rest of the day.
Here are the 12 best foods you can eat in the morning.
Eggs are undeniably healthy and delicious.
In one study, men who ate eggs for breakfast felt more satisfied and took in fewer calories during the rest of the day than those who consumed a bagel (3).
Eggs are also one of the best sources of choline, a very important nutrient for brain and liver health (6).
Though high in cholesterol, eggs don’t raise cholesterol levels in most people.
Eggs are also very versatile. For example, hard-boiled eggs make a great portable breakfast that can be prepared ahead of time.
Eggs are high in protein and several important nutrients. They also promote fullness and help you eat fewer calories.
2. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is creamy, delicious and nourishing.
It’s made by straining whey and other liquid from milk curds, which produces a creamier yogurt that is more concentrated in protein.
The term thermic effect refers to the increase in metabolic rate that occurs after eating.
To make sure your yogurt contains probiotics, look for the phrase contains live and active cultures on the label.
Try topping Greek yogurt with berries or chopped fruit to increase your meal’s vitamin, mineral and fiber content.
Greek yogurt is high in protein, helps reduce appetite and may aid weight loss. Certain types also contain beneficial probiotics.
Coffee is an amazing beverage to start your day.
It’s high in caffeine, which has been shown to improve mood, alertness and mental performance.
An analysis of 41 studies found the most effective dose to be 38–400 mg per day to maximize the benefits of caffeine while reducing side effects (18).
This is roughly 0.3 to 4 cups of coffee per day, depending on the coffee’s strength (18).
Having a cup of coffee is a great way to start your day. The caffeine in it may improve mood, mental performance and metabolism.
Oatmeal is the best breakfast choice for cereal lovers.
What’s more, oat beta-glucan is a viscous fiber that promotes feelings of fullness. One study found that it increased levels of the fullness hormone PYY and that higher doses had the greatest effect (28, 29, 30).
Though oats don’t contain gluten, they’re often processed in the same facilities as gluten-containing grains. Researchers have found that most oats are indeed contaminated with other grains, especially barley (34).
Bear in mind that one cup (235 grams) of cooked oatmeal contains only about 6 grams of protein, which won’t provide the benefits of a higher-protein breakfast (35).
To boost the protein content of an oatmeal breakfast, prepare it with milk instead of water or serve it with a side of eggs or a piece of cheese.
Oatmeal is rich in beta-glucan fiber, which lowers cholesterol and increases feelings of fullness. It also contains antioxidants.
5. Chia Seeds
In fact, one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds provides an impressive 11 grams of fiber per serving (36).
What’s more, a portion of the fiber in chia seeds is viscous fiber, which absorbs water, increasing the volume of food moving through your digestive tract and helping you feel full and satisfied (37, 38, 39).
In a small, 12-week study, people with diabetes who ate chia seeds experienced reduced hunger, along with improvements in blood sugar and blood pressure (39).
In another study of people with diabetes, chia seeds decreased the inflammatory marker CRP by 40%. Elevated CRP is a major risk factor for heart disease (43).
However, one serving of chia seeds provides only about 4 grams of protein, which may not be optimal for breakfast (36).
Here is a recipe for chia pudding that contains more than 25 grams of protein.
High-Protein Chia Seed Pudding
- 1 ounce (28 grams) of dried chia seeds.
- 1 scoop of whey protein powder.
- 1 cup (240 ml) of coconut milk or almond milk.
- Half a cup 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 one hour.
You can find a great selection of chia seeds here.
Chia seeds are high in fiber and packed with antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and decrease disease risk.
Berries are delicious and packed with antioxidants.
Popular types include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.
They’re lower in sugar than most fruits, yet higher in fiber.
What’s more, one cup of berries contains only 50–85 calories depending on the type.
A good way to add berries to your breakfast is to eat them with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.
Berries are high in fiber and low in calories. They’re also rich in antioxidants that may decrease your risk of disease.
Nuts are tasty, satisfying and nutritious.
Even though nuts are high in calories, studies suggest you don’t absorb all the fat in them.
This may be true for some other nuts as well, though at this time only almonds have been tested.
All types of nuts are also high in magnesium, potassium and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
What’s more, Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium — just two Brazil nuts provide more than 100% of the recommended daily intake (64).
Nuts are also beneficial for people with diabetes. In one study, replacing a portion of carbs with 2 ounces (56 grams) of nuts led to reduced blood sugar and cholesterol levels (65).
Topping Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or oatmeal with 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts provides crunch and flavor while increasing your breakfast’s nutritional value.
You can find a great selection of nuts here.
Nuts are a filling, nutrient-dense food that may help reduce heart disease risk and improve blood sugar control.
8. Green Tea
Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
Green tea provides only 35–70 mg of caffeine per cup, which is about half the amount in coffee.
Green tea may be especially helpful against diabetes. A review of 17 studies found that green tea drinkers had reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels (66).
Find a great selection of green tea here.
Green tea has many health benefits. It contains an antioxidant called EGCG, which benefits your brain and nervous system.
9. Protein Shake
Another great way to start your day is with a protein shake or smoothie.
Several types of protein powder can be used, including whey, egg, soy and pea protein.
However, whey protein is absorbed most quickly by your body (71).
One study comparing four high-protein meals found that the whey protein meal reduced appetite the most and led to the lowest calorie intake at the next meal (74).
Regardless of the type of protein powder used, a high-protein shake can be satisfying and filling. Add fruits, greens, nut butter or seeds to provide fiber and antioxidants.
A protein shake or smoothie is a great high-protein breakfast choice that promotes fullness and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
Fruit can be a delicious part of a nourishing breakfast.
All types of fruit contain vitamins, potassium, fiber and are relatively low in calories. One cup of chopped fruit provides about 80–130 calories, depending on the type.
Fruit is also very filling due to its high fiber and water contents (79).
Pair fruit with eggs, cheese, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt for a well-balanced breakfast that will sustain you for hours.
Fruit is a good source of vitamins, potassium and fiber. It also contains antioxidants that can help reduce disease risk.
Flaxseeds are incredibly healthy.
Two tablespoons (14 grams) of ground flaxseeds contain 3 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber (84).
Try adding flaxseeds to Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or a smoothie to increase the fiber and antioxidant content of your breakfast.
Just make sure to choose ground flaxseeds or grind them yourself, because whole flaxseeds can’t be absorbed by your gut and will simply pass through your system.
Flaxseeds are high in viscous fiber, which helps you feel full. They may also improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
12. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a fantastic breakfast food.
In fact, cottage cheese has been shown to be as filling and satisfying as eggs (86).
Full-fat cottage cheese also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may promote weight loss (13).
One cup of cottage cheese provides an impressive 25 grams of protein (87).
Add berries and ground flaxseeds or chopped nuts to make it even more nutritious.
Cottage cheese is high in protein, which promotes feelings of fullness and increases your metabolic rate.
The Bottom Line
Whether or not you eat breakfast is a personal choice.
Despite what you may have been told as a child, skipping breakfast does not necessarily have negative effects, as long as you eat a balanced diet throughout your day.
If you do eat in the morning, make sure to start your day off right by fueling your body with the healthy and nutrient-dense foods outlined in this article.