Best-Bet Breakfast Ideas
Ahhh, breakfast—so many choices, so little time. Why is the first and fastest meal of the day so often the hardest to get right? Add to the mix factors like intermittent fasting, diabetes, and plain-old picky palates, and the question of what to eat for breakfast becomes a real conundrum. In this article, some of LWell’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) weigh in on what they eat for breakfast and why.
Why is breakfast so hard?
Limited time, rush-hour commutes, getting kids to school—the morning hustle is real. Having a regular morning routine and a go-to breakfast plan will help make mornings more manageable. Katelyn Brockmiller, RDN, an LWell Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Hampton Roads, VA, simplifies her morning routine by food prepping on Sundays and eating pretty much the same thing for breakfast every day of the week. “I eat the same thing and that leads to having to make fewer decisions across my day,” she says.
Brockmiller’s current go-to breakfast is egg muffins baked in a silicone muffin pan. She combines eggs with Trader Joe’s frozen bell peppers and onions, spinach, and chicken sausage. In the morning she reheats a muffin in a gluten-free pita topped with 1/2 cup of black beans for extra protein. Her other favorite easy breakfast is plain Greek yogurt mixed with a small portion of oatmeal and topped with chia seeds and walnuts.
What if I’m not hungry in the morning?
Rosemary Hutcherson, RDN, an LWell Registered Dietitian based in Williamsburg, VA, prefers a protein-rich shake for breakfast. “I don’t want heavy food first thing in the morning,” she says. I like to have 20-30 grams of protein first thing and that would be a lot of protein to get from food alone.” She follows up with a more substantial meal around 11 a.m., “usually a salad with some type of protein on it.”
Hutcherson personally uses and recommends HealthCode brand whey protein powder for its high fiber content and added MCTs. She and the other dietitians all emphasize the importance of protein for “breaking the fast” in the morning to prevent blood sugar from spiking. This is especially true if you’re over age 40 and/or working a sedentary job most of the day. But if you’re exercising hard first thing in the morning, adding carbs to breakfast won’t have as much of an impact on your insulin response (and waistline).
What about intermittent fasting?
Whether intermittent fasting is right for you depends on your age, habits, schedule, and certain medical conditions, says LWell founder Caroline Fornshell, RDN. Fasting isn’t always the best option for people, especially middle-aged women. This is due to the body’s changing ability to regulate blood sugar and hormones. “Fiber and protein stabilize volatility of blood sugar in the morning,” explains Fornshell. “So even a couple of quick bites [of protein] in the morning can become increasingly important as we get older. Intermittent fasting doesn’t set everyone up for the best outcome.”
Fornshell, a busy CEO and mother of three, likes to keep some variety in her breakfasts and will mix up her routine more often. When she’s in the morning rush, she will reach for Catalina Crunch low-glycemic cereal mixed with unsweetened flaxmilk with protein. Another go-to for her is a healthy Chocolate Chia Pudding. To make: combine chia seeds, cacao powder, and unsweetened, protein-infused milk in a blender. Optionally add a tiny amount of honey or monk fruit if you find it too bitter. “[Unsweetened], it won’t spike your blood sugar and provides lots of healthy fiber,” she says.
Think “outside the box” on traditional breakfast foods
Jessica Edmonds, also an RD at LWell and an expert on diabetes, says her patients will often confess they simply do not like breakfast foods. Edmonds encourages people to think outside of the traditional breakfast-food box and pair an apple with peanut butter or a cheese stick. Other suggestions are a hard boiled egg with a handful of nuts. Edmonds’ personal go-to breakfast is Siggy’s full-fat Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of berries and granola.
What about social events like brunch?
Brockmiller and Hutcherson both agree on giving their patients AND themselves the flexibility to enjoy the occasional weekend brunch. For example, Brockmiller, an avid runner, will skip the carb-heavy potatoes on weekdays but will indulge in them at her favorite weekend brunch spot, especially after running a race. When going out for brunch, Hutcherson will usually order scrambled eggs, a green salad, and either potatoes or a biscuit, but not both. “It’s a trade-off,” she says.
Breakfast: Key Takeaways
-Eat high in protein
-Meal prep for the week ahead OR
-Make it liquid if you prefer
-Be a creature of (healthy) habit
-Redefine “breakfast foods”
-Allow for flexibility on weekends