Why breakfast matters
Foxys Forest Manufacture/Shutterstock You've heard that breakfast is "the most important meal of the day," but not all of us enjoy eating it. Some folks simply can't stomach a meal after they've just rolled out of bed, while others are sick of the foods deemed acceptable to eat before 11 a.m. But here's the thing: A healthy morning meal can do a great deal of good when it comes to helping you reach your flat belly goals.
"Several scientific studies suggest people who eat a nutrient-packed breakfast have more slim-down success," says Chicago-based dietitian Christine M. Palumbo, RDN, FAND. "One school of thought is that breakfast jumpstarts the metabolism, and that effect continues throughout the day." In one Obesity Society study, research participants who consumed the bulk of the day's calories at breakfast lost more weight and more fat around their midsection than folks who ate small breakfasts and large dinners. (Just be sure to avoid foods that slow down your metabolism.)
Eating breakfast can also improve your overall health. Research in The Journal of Physiology suggests that regularly eating a morning meal may lower diabetes and cardiovascular risk, whereas skipping breakfast has been associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, a condition that can cause kidney and coronary heart disease.
To help you fall in love with breakfast and fuel your slim-down efforts, we've hunted down nutritionist-recommended healthy breakfast ideas that will make your mouth water—no matter which weight loss plan you're following. And as always, beware of these 17 healthy breakfast mistakes you might make this morning.
High protein, low-carb: spicy eggs on toast
Photosiber/ShutterstockIf you're following a high protein, low-carb diet, Palumbo suggests topping a slice of dry whole wheat toast with two hard or soft-boiled eggs and a sprinkling of chopped, dried Chipotle peppers. "Not only is this meal high protein and low-carb, but it's also high in fiber," Palumbo notes. Bonus: Chipotle peppers contain capsaicin. The chemical compound has been shown to suppress appetite and increase thermogenesis, which in turn, aids weight loss, according to a Bioscience Reports study. Here are more high-protein healthy breakfast ideas to help you slim down.
Vegan: sprouted grain bread with nut butter
Catherine Murray/ShutterstockTraditional breakfasts tend to be riddled with dairy and meat: milk and cereal; buttered toast; bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches; the list goes on and on. But if you want to know how to lose weight on a vegan diet, there are some delicious options.
"One of my favorite breakfasts is sprouted grain bread with nut butter," says co-author of Should I Scoop Out My Bagel, Ilyse Schapiro, RD, CDN. (You'll find sprouted grain bread in the freezer section.) "The bread provides whole grains and fiber, and the nut butter has monounsaturated fats that are very satiating. Depending on how much nut butter you use, the breakfast can be anywhere from 260 to 360 calories and have between 10 and 17 grams of protein."
And if you've gone vegan but used to love eggs, here's an egg substitute vegans love.
Clean eating diet: Greek yogurt with mashed berries and nuts
PR Image Factory/ShutterstockIf you're looking for a "clean" weekday breakfast you can prep the night before and toss in your briefcase, Marisa Moore, RDN, has the answer: a Greek yogurt parfait. Spoon plain Greek yogurt into a small mason jar or Tupperware container and top it with raspberries (mash 'em to better combine the flavors) and seven or eight crushed walnuts. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or cardamom for extra flavor.
"The Greek yogurt provides double the protein of regular yogurt and a dose of probiotics. As for the raspberries, they're one of the most fibrous fruits. Plus, they add natural sweetness and flavor," Moore says. If you're not a fan of raspberries, try antioxidant-packed blueberries. If you're not a fan of walnuts, swap in your favorite nut. "Nuts provide healthy fats and a satisfying crunch. They might even help with satiety, that feeling of satisfaction that's critical to help keep hunger at bay." (These 10 healthier ways to top Greek yogurt for breakfast are also worth trying.)
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Low carb, Whole30: baked eggs in an avocado
Anna Shepulova/Shutterstock Yes, that's right; eggs inside an avocado! Pretty creative, no? Post this low-carb, Whole30-approved dish on your Facebook page, and it's sure to rack up the "likes." Palumbo says to slice an avocado in half, remove the pit, and then scoop out about 2 tablespoons of flesh to create a deeper hole. Then, crack an egg into each half. Bake until the egg sets, about 15 to 20 minutes. Top with salt, pepper, and chives for a Pinterest-worthy meal that's brimming with protein and satiating fats—the perfect combination of nutrients for anyone trying to slim down. If you're actively limiting your calories, Palumbo suggests using a small avocado and splitting the dish with a friend.
Check out 55 more delicious egg recipes!
Vegan or vegetarian: Mexican breakfast bowl
JS OConnor/ShutterstockA half-cup of black beans, a quarter of an avocado, and a few heaping spoonfuls of salsa combine to make an unusual—yet totally satisfying—vegan breakfast bowl. "This savory breakfast checks off many boxes: It's packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. Top it all with plenty of salsa for extra flavor and a vegetable boost," Moore says. If you're not a bean fan, find a swap on our list of the best vegan protein sources.
If you're vegetarian, use fewer beans and top the bowl with a sunny side up egg dusted with Tex-Mex spices such as chili powder, paprika, cumin, and onion powder. Check out these other 12 healthy and quick breakfast ideas.
Vegan, high protein: tofu scramble
Magdalena Paluchowska/ShutterstockWhether you're vegan, or just trying to sneak more protein into your diet, a tofu scramble served with a slice of bread is a smart a.m. choice, says Schapiro. Sauté four or five ounces of extra-firm tofu with your favorite veggies and spices, and enjoy it with a slice of sprouted whole grain bread which has high-quality carbohydrates and fiber. "This meal is super filling so it will keep you full for hours, but is still relatively low in calories," Schapiro says.
Paleo: broiled salmon and grapefruit
marco mayer/shutterstock Following a Paleo diet might leave you feeling like you have to eat eggs and bacon on repeat, but with a little culinary creativity, you can introduce tasty variety into your morning meals. Take Palumbo's salmon and grapefruit duo, for example. "Plate eight ounces of broiled salmon and a whole, unsweetened pink or red grapefruit for a meal that's rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, as well as vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and vitamin A," Palumbo says. Here are more refreshing grapefruit recipes to get you eating more of this waistline-friendly citrus fruit.
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Clean eating diet: veggie omelet with side of melon
Nataliya Arzamasova/ShutterstockInexpensive and satisfying, eggs are a satiating breakfast option for many weight loss plans. "They're also an easy base for vegetables," Moore says. "You can add in freshly sautéed onion, mushroom, and spinach or toss in leftover vegetables from dinner the night before." To round out your meal, Moore suggests pairing your omelet with a side of melon. "Melons are sweet, hydrating, and have a high water content to help keep you feeling full." (Psst! This is the best way to clean pesticides off your fruit.)
Whole30: shakshuka with vegan "cheese" and avocado toast
Happy Moments/ShutterstockHealthy breakfasts can sometimes feel less-than-satisfying. But shakshuka, a Middle Eastern dish made with spicy tomato sauce, green peppers, and eggs, seems indulgent while remaining light and filling. To make a single-serve batch, dice half a green pepper and sauté it in a frying pan with ground cumin and coriander, paprika, and red pepper flakes, to taste. Once the peppers soften, add a no-sugar-added tomato sauce into a pan and crack two eggs over the mixture. Cook until whites are set, but yolks are still runny, and top with your favorite vegan "cheese."
Palumbo suggests completing this Whole30-approved meal with a slice of avocado toast sprinkled with sunflower seeds for some additional healthy fats and filling fiber.
And in case you're considering it, Whole30 is on our list of weight loss challenges that are totally doable.
Vegan: nut milk fruit smoothie with chia seeds
nadianb/Shutterstock Smoothies made with soy or nut milk are one of the easiest and quickest vegan breakfasts you can make, Palumbo says. The best part: Not only are they a great source of protein and produce, but you can easily mix and match flavors and enjoy a different concoction every day.
Try blending 1 cup of no-sugar-added almond, coconut, or soy milk with 1 cup of frozen fruit (like berries and bananas), 1 cup of spinach or kale (for added nutrients and fiber), and 2 teaspoons of chia or ground flaxseeds. "Chia and ground flax seeds add filling healthy fats and boost the smoothie's nutrient profile," Palumbo says. (If you're on the Paleo diet, try these 5 irresistibly delicious Paleo smoothies even non-dieters will love.)
Clean eating diet: overnight oats with nuts and fruit
Adam Hoglund/ShutterstockOvernight oats are another simple meal you can prep the night before and store in a mason jar for easy transport. In case you've never made them, you just soak oats overnight with a liquid plus the add-ins of your choice, for an exceptionally flavorful oatmeal that's soft enough to eat without needing to be zapped in the microwave.
To make a serving, combine a 1/2 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats with a 1/2 cup of liquid such as water, dairy milk, or a no-sugar-added milk alternative in a transportable container. Palumbo suggests adding fresh or frozen berries for added flavor, fiber, and phytochemicals. Just before eating, add chopped nuts for a healthy hit of protein, vitamin E, and some yummy crunch, Palumbo suggests.
These are some of the best overnight oats recipes.
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Whole30, low-carb, Paleo: egg muffin cups
Rasulov/ShutterstockIf you're following Whole30, low-carb, or a Paleo-inspired diet, you'll love Schapiro's grab-and-go egg muffin cups. They're packed with appetite-crushing protein and veggies, something many of us don't consume before lunchtime. "I love egg muffin cups, whether whole eggs or egg whites or a mix of both," says Schapiro. "The veggies have fiber that helps keep you full, and you can pair it with some avocado for added healthy fats."
To whip up a batch, crack and whisk 10 eggs; add chopped vegetables (raw or lightly sautéed) and your favorite herbs, and mix to combine. Pour the mixture into a muffin tin (sprayed with cooking spray) and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are firm and the eggs are cooked through. Reheat one or two muffins in your office break room for a healthy and filling deskside breakfast. (Psst! Here's why you should never, ever keep eggs on this one side of the fridge.)