Eat This, Not That, for Breakfast

Tips to start your day with a healthy breakfast

A healthy breakfast meal that includes protein and other important nutrients.

Tips to start your day with a healthy breakfast

When you’re on the go, it’s easy to skimp on breakfast or even skip the first meal of the day altogether. However, breakfast is exactly what it means – a break from your overnight fast – and skipping your first meal can impact the rest of your day.

A healthy breakfast can help set the tone for your day and help you start the day feeling energized. Remember, coffee alone in the morning does not make for a healthy breakfast. It's what you eat with it.


“Beginning your day with a nourishing breakfast helps fuel your body and mind for the day ahead,” says Tina Tran, MD, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center San Marcos. “However, what you eat to break your fast is important.”

“So avoid sugary cereals or pastries and choose foods with a mix of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber,” she adds. “Whole foods provide lasting energy and fullness until your next meal.” 

What makes a healthy breakfast?

As busy as we are every day, we need our bodies to be healthy and ready for the day ahead. We need vitamins, minerals, essential nutrients and protein to maintain and replenish our energy, brain power and metabolism. Studies have shown that eating a healthy breakfast can also help with weight management.


“Eating a balanced breakfast can help you control your weight and also can help keep your blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels steady, providing you select healthy options,” Dr. Tran says.


To make breakfast as convenient as possible, shop smart. Keep healthy, easily prepared, simple breakfast foods on hand. That way, even if you’re running out the door, you can always grab something quick that still makes for a healthy breakfast.

Five tips to start your day with a healthy breakfast

Start your day right with these healthy breakfast ideas:

1. Choose whole grains

Instead of refined grains like white bread or sugary cereals, choose whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole grain toast or quinoa. Whole grains are rich in fiber and can help keep you full and satisfied until your next meal.


Try eating oatmeal with peanut butter and banana. Adding nut butter and banana provides healthy fats and potassium, making this meal tasty and nutritious.

2. Add protein, but be selective

Protein in your breakfast can help keep you full and satisfied until lunchtime.

Eggs are a good source of protein. Try baked eggs with spinach and feta to add flavor and nutrients. It is a healthy breakfast option that gives you energy. Or you could try a breakfast burrito. Fill a whole wheat tortilla with scrambled eggs, black beans, avocado and top it with salsa for a satisfying on-the-go meal.


Meats are good for protein but avoid eating processed meats as much as possible. If you do, pick lean meats like turkey bacon, chicken sausage or grilled chicken. They have less fat and calories than pork or sausage links.


Greek yogurt is a good source of protein and vitamins. This type of yogurt is good for gut health and has less sugar, which can help keep your blood sugar stable. Greek yogurt with pineapple, kiwi and mango tastes good and is a healthy way to start your day.


Cottage cheese is a healthy choice that provides protein and calcium. Make cottage cheese toast and choose different toppings. Choices include banana and peanut butter, avocado, berries with nut butter or cucumber and tomato.

3. Include fruits and vegetables

Many people do not get the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables. Adding fruits and veggies to breakfast boosts your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants intake. Plus, they are low in fat and calories, making it a healthy choice for your morning meal.


Try adding berries to your oatmeal, spinach to your omelet or avocado to your toast.

4. Limit added sugars

Watch for added sugar in your breakfast. These are sugars and syrups added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared, or simply added at the table. Use unsweetened options or add fruit or honey for sweetness instead.

To check for added sugars in packaged foods, read the nutrition facts label. The line for sugars contains both the natural and added types as total grams of sugar. Natural sugars are found in fruit and dairy products.

If you frequently use table sugar, switch to unsweetened options. This may include artificial sweeteners.

Also, natural juice works better than juice with added sugars.

Need help?

There are many healthy breakfast options. Choose one that fits your diet. If you need help, there are plenty of resources available.


The USDA's MyPlate program provides tips for eating healthy throughout the day. For example:

  • Make sure half your plate is fruits and vegetables
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Eat a variety of protein sources at breakfast
  • Make at least half the grains you consume whole grains


 Schedule a visit with your primary care physician to learn more and to discuss how best to meet your nutritional needs. 

Infographic: A few suggestions for a healthy breakfast

Infographic comparing breakfast foods to get better nutrition benefits.

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