The 12 Best Foods To Eat In The Morning
Breakfast is a great way to start your day.
While some people prefer to skip breakfast, others need a source of energy to get going.
If you enjoy breakfast, choosing nutritious foods may provide long-lasting energy and keep you full for hours. These foods are typically high in fiber, protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients.
While it’s best to avoid unhealthy options that are high in sugar, refined carbs, and additives, it’s not always easy to know what to choose. As such, the list below will help you build a healthy breakfast.
Here are 12 of the best foods and drinks to enjoy in the morning.
Eggs make a simple, nutritious breakfast choice.
They’re an excellent source of protein, which helps support muscle synthesis. Since protein takes a while to digest, it also helps keep you feeling full (1, 2).
In one study, people given eggs and toast for breakfast reported significantly less hunger than those given bran cereal, suggesting that the egg group’s higher protein intake — 25 grams versus 11 grams — promoted greater fullness (3).
Furthermore, the egg group ate fewer calories at lunch, suggesting that this dish may support weight management (3).
Additionally, egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants help prevent eye disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration (4, 5). Their low histamine content are also helpful in preventing allergies.
Eggs are also one of the best sources of choline, a vital nutrient for brain and liver health (6).
Contrary to popular belief, eggs don’t raise cholesterol levels in most people despite their high cholesterol content. In fact, one review of 23 studies found that eggs have a mild protective effect against heart disease (7).
That said, try to limit your intake of highly processed breakfast items that are commonly paired with eggs, such as breakfast sausages and bacon. Instead, eat your eggs with other nutritious foods, such as whole grain toast, whole fruit, or sautéed vegetables. You can also get powder eggs and keep them in storage.
2. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a great option if you’re looking for a quick breakfast.
It’s made by straining whey and other liquid from milk curds, which produces a creamy product that’s more concentrated in protein than regular yogurt (8).
In addition, it’s lower in calories than other protein sources. A 1-cup (245-gram) serving boasts 25 grams of protein and only 149 calories (9).
Plus, Greek yogurt is full of beneficial nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus (9).
Certain types are good sources of probiotics like Bifidobacteria, which support your digestion. To make sure that your yogurt contains probiotics, look for the phrase “contains live and active cultures” on the label (10, 11).
If you prefer an even creamier, higher protein product, Icelandic yogurt — known as skyr — is another great option.
Try topping Greek yogurt with berries or chopped fruit to add more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Aside from water, coffee is the world’s most popular beverage. Approximately 85% of Americans drink coffee on a regular basis (12).
It’s high in caffeine, a molecule that promotes alertness, improves mood, and increases physical and mental performance. Notably, many athletes drink coffee as a natural pre-workout beverage to support sports performance (12, 13).
It also contains other beneficial compounds, such as chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and diterpenes, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (14, 15).
In fact, regular coffee intake is associated with many health benefits, such as a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, liver disease, Parkinson’s, certain types of cancer, and even death from all causes (15, 16, 17).
Most studies suggest that 1–3 cups (240–710 mL) per day — containing about 300–400 mg of caffeine — provide these benefits. Although this amount is safe for adults, you should limit yourself to 300 mg or less of caffeine per day if you’re pregnant (12).
Finally, it’s best to drink your coffee black or with dairy or plant-based milk. Try to use sugar sparingly or avoid it altogether, as too much sugar is linked to health risks.
Oatmeal is a classic breakfast option — and it’s nutritious to boot.
It’s made from rolled or steel cut oats, which contain a unique fiber called beta glucan.
This soluble fiber not only helps reduce cholesterol levels but also promotes feelings of fullness by delaying stomach emptying and triggering the release of peptide YY, a fullness hormone that may prevent overeating (18, 19, 20, 21).
Plus, oats are a good source of iron, B vitamins, manganese, magnesium, zinc, and selenium (22).
They also contain around 10 grams of protein per cup (81 grams). To boost the protein content, make oatmeal with milk instead of water, mix in some protein powder, or serve it with a side of eggs (22).
Keep in mind that oats don’t contain gluten but are often processed alongside gluten-containing grains, which increases the risk of cross contamination (23).
Therefore, people with gluten-related disorders should choose oats that have been certified gluten-free.
5. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are extremely nutritious and a great source of fiber.
In fact, just 1 ounce (28 grams) provides an impressive 10 grams of fiber per serving (24).
What’s more, a portion of this fiber is soluble, meaning that it absorbs water and increases the volume of food moving through your digestive tract. In turn, this process helps you feel full (25, 26, 27).
One small study gave participants either plain yogurt or yogurt with 7 or 14 grams of chia seeds. Both chia seed groups observed significantly more fullness, less hunger, and reduced overall food intake than the plain yogurt group (28).
Another study found that eating chia seeds led to significantly reduced hunger compared with flaxseeds. Although both seeds are highly nutritious, the gelling properties of chia seeds may be responsible (29).
These seeds’ high soluble fiber may likewise help stabilize blood sugar levels and support heart health (30, 31).
Though chia seeds aren’t high in protein, you can eat them with high protein foods, such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or a protein shake.
This chia pudding recipe packs 25 grams of protein, for example.
High protein chia pudding recipe
- 1 ounce (28 grams) of dry chia seeds
- 1 scoop (25 grams) of whey protein powder
- 1 cup (240 mL) of coconut milk or almond milk
- 1/2 cup (74 grams) 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 1 hour.
Berries — including blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries — are delicious and packed with antioxidants.
Most are high in fiber, which promotes fullness. In fact, raspberries and blackberries each provide an impressive 8 grams of fiber per cup (123–144 grams) (32, 33).
Plus, 1 cup (123–144 grams) of berries contains only 50–85 calories depending on the type (32, 33, 34).
Berries also offer antioxidants called anthocyanins, which provide their characteristic blue, purple, and red colors. A diet high in anthocyanins is linked to reduced inflammation and a lower risk of illnesses like heart disease and certain types of cancer (35, 36, 37, 38).
Additionally, anthocyanins are associated with better brain health and may protect against age-related mental decline (39, 40).
You can purchase berries year-round either fresh or frozen. Add them to Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, or a fruit smoothie for a tasty breakfast.
7. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a fantastic high protein breakfast item, packing an impressive 24 grams of protein per cup (220 grams) (41).
A high protein breakfast is linked to greater fullness and reduced hunger. In fact, one study found cottage cheese to be as filling and satisfying as eggs (42).
Cottage cheese is also low in calories, providing only 180 calories per cup (220 grams). Therefore, it may support weight loss without leaving you feeling hungry (41).
In fact, one review associated a diet high in dairy products, especially high protein foods, with greater weight loss (43).
You can eat cottage cheese with many other nutritious foods, such as berries, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, chia seeds, flaxseeds, or granola.
8. Whole wheat toast
If you prefer a simple breakfast in the morning, give whole wheat toast a try.
Whole grain toast is high in fiber and complex carbs, which digest slowly and don’t rapidly raise blood sugar levels (44, 45).
You can spread any number of nutritious toppings on whole wheat toast, including:
- fried eggs and tomatoes
- avocado and chili flakes
- peanut butter and banana
- cottage cheese and strawberries
- sliced figs and honey
- sliced turkey or chicken
- baked beans
- egg salad
For extra fiber and protein, try sprouted grain bread, 2 slices of which provide around 8 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein (46).
Nuts of all types are high in magnesium, potassium, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They’re also a great source of antioxidants (47, 48, 49, 50).
Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium. Just 2 Brazil nuts provide more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV) (51).
Although nuts are high in calories, studies suggest you don’t absorb all of their fat.
For example, some studies show that your body only absorbs about 129 calories from a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of whole almonds, though you absorb more fat from processed versions, such as almond butter (52, 53).
Another study notes that your body only absorbs 80% of the calories from almonds and walnuts (54).
Furthermore, nuts’ high protein, fat, and fiber contents promote fullness, which may aid weight management (50, 55, 56).
Nut intake is also linked to better heart and brain health. In fact, one study associated eating peanuts and tree nuts 2 or more times per week and walnuts 1 or more times per week with a 13–19% reduced risk of heart disease (57, 58, 59, 60, 61).
Topping Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or oatmeal with a spoonful or two of chopped nuts is a great way to increase your breakfast’s nutritional value.
10. Green Tea
Green tea is a soothing drink to get you going in the morning.
It contains caffeine, which improves alertness and mood. One cup (240 mL) provides only 35–70 mg of caffeine, which is about half the amount in the same serving of coffee (62).
It’s also high in L-theanine, a compound that promotes a calming effect and may reduce the “jitters” linked to caffeine intake. It may also improve mood and reduce anxiety (63).
Finally, green tea provides epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant that protects against chronic ailments like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and mental decline. It may also have a mild effect on metabolism, though more research is needed (64, 65, 66, 67, 68).
11. Protein Shakes
If you’re short on time or want to take your breakfast on the go, protein shakes or smoothies are a great option.
Many types of protein powder exist, but whey and pea protein are the most common.
Protein is important for many bodily functions, such as enzymatic reactions, maintaining and building muscle mass, and supporting healthy skin and hair. Plus, protein promotes fullness and reduces hunger (69, 70, 71, 72).
Additionally, a protein shake makes a great post-workout meal. Eating a large meal after a workout may be hard on your stomach, but drinking a protein shake may be easier on your stomach while still providing ample protein and nutrients for post-workout recovery (73, 74).
For a well-rounded breakfast, add a scoop of protein powder to a smoothie made with banana, frozen fruit, and milk or water.
If you don’t want a full meal but still crave a bite to eat in the morning, try fruit.
All fruits are relatively low in calories and contain good amounts of fiber and simple sugars. The fiber in fruit helps slow your body’s absorption of its sugars, giving you a steady source of energy (75).
Depending on the type of fruit, you’ll also get various vitamins and minerals.
For example, many fruits — including oranges, guava, kiwi, strawberries, papaya, acerola cherries, and lychee — are high in vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and plays a key role in skin health (76).
Other fruits like bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, papaya, and mango are high in potassium (76).
Furthermore, fruits provide an array of polyphenol compounds and antioxidants depending on their color. For instance, guava is high in lycopene while purple plums pack anthocyanins. This is why it’s important to eat fruits of various colors (76, 77).
Research indicates that eating whole fruit may offer numerous benefits, such as a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, lower rates of depression and poor mental health, healthy aging, and better gut health (78, 79, 80).
Since fruit juice lacks fiber and is less likely to keep you full, it’s best to stick with whole fruit most often (81).
For a balanced breakfast, pair fruit with high protein foods, such as eggs, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese.
The Bottom Line
If you enjoy breakfast, try to start your day with a nutritious meal.
While breakfast options abound, the best choices are high in fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Many nutritious, healthy foods and drinks are also easy to prepare in the morning. These include fruit, whole grain toast, eggs, green tea, coffee, and protein shakes.
Franziska Spritzler is a writer for Healthline. Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD, CPT, a Canadian registered dietitian and certified personal trainer.
Printed courtesy of Healthline.