Break the Fast: Seven Great Morning Meals

By H.K. Jones

Smart eating rule number one: Never skip breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast every day is the secret to improved health, increased energy, and even weight-loss success. A morning meal not only gets your metabolism revved up for the day ahead, but also gives your body a much-needed boost after many hours of slumber. This important meal (dubbed by many as the most important meal of the day) also increases concentration throughout the day and prevents binge-eating later in the evening. More reasons to eat your morning meal: Studies have shown that people who skip breakfast double their risk (gulp) of developing obesity and insulin resistance (a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes) compared with those who start the day right.

Your best breakfast bet is a healthy balanced meal that focuses on whole grains, lean protein, and good fats. Below are seven easy ways to break the fast the right way. These meals contain about 600 calories (in general, active men need 2,700 to 3,000 calorie each day), and are low in artery-clogging saturated and trans fat, but high in the nutrients you need to fuel you all day long. Note that the brand names provided are suggestions based on the quality of their ingredients; other brands may provide similar benefits—be sure to check ingredients labels.

Breakfast Benefits
2 cups of Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal with 1 ½ cups 1% or skim milk. Serve with ¼ cup whole almonds and 1 banana.

Skip sugary, refined cold cereals and instead opt for 100-percent whole-grain choices. Low in fat and high in fiber, they’ll help you feel full longer. Look for 100-percent whole-grain cereal (or bran or wheat germ cereal) with at least three grams of fiber and no more than five to eight grams of sugar. Top your cereal with low-fat (and protein- and calcium-rich) milk and round out your meal with a potassium-packed bananas and some almonds for a little good-for-you fat and lots of vitamin E.

Aidells Chicken and Apple Sausage (1 link). Serve with 1 apple and 2 slices of whole-grain toast topped with 1 tbsp of trans-free margarine.

Low-fat chicken sausage, a great source of satisfying protein that helps keeps blood sugar low, makes this meal a great way to start the day. Apples are a good source of vitamins A and C and whole–grain bread is packed with filling heart-healthy fiber. Look for 100-percent whole-grain bread with at least two or three grams of fiber per slice.

Wasa Multigrain Crispbread (2 slices) spread with 2 Tbsp peanut butter. Serve with 1 ½ cups of 1% or skim milk and 1 grapefruit.

Whole grain crackers, like Wasa Crispbread, spread with peanut butter (it’s rich in monounsaturated fat, the type that’s good for your heart) add a nutrient-packed crunch to your morning meal. “Think Pink” when picking grapefruit since the pink and red varieties have more antioxidants and phytochemicals than their paler cousins.

Toasted whole-wheat English muffin filled with 4 ounces of smoked salmon, ½ of a peeled and sliced avocado, and 1 pouched egg. Serve with 1 cup of low-fat, plain yogurt mixed with 1 cup of berries.

This breakfast sandwich is packed with goodness: Avocados are not only one of the best natural sources of monounsaturated fat, they’re also loaded with folate, magnesium, and potassium; salmon is a lean protein packed with heart-healthy omega 3s; and eggs also offer excellent high-quality protein. Finish off this meal with calcium-rich yogurt and antioxidant-packed berries.

Tex Mex burritos—2 whole-wheat tortillas filled with even amounts of 2 scrambled eggs, 2 Tbsp of salsa, ½ of a peeled and chopped avocado, and ¼ cup low sodium canned black beans. Served with 1 cup of calcium-fortified orange juice. Protein-rich beans and veggies (both are chock full of fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals) turn up the power in this morning meal. Look for 100-percent whole-grain tortillas with at least 3 or 4 grams of fiber each, and choose orange juice with added calcium.

1 cup of cooked oatmeal (1/4 cup dry) topped with 3 Tbsp of walnuts and 3 Tbsp of dried fruit such as cranberries or blueberries. Serve with 1 cup of low fat cottage cheese and an orange. Good old-fashioned oatmeal contains a wide array of vitamins and minerals and is a good source of protein, carbs, and iron. Top with nutrient-dense dried fruit and good-for- your heart walnuts and serve with low-fat cottage cheese (full of calcium) and an orange (full of vitamin C).

1 Fiber-One Chewy Bar, 1 6-oz container of plain yogurt, 2 kiwi fruit, and ¼ cup of mixed nuts.

If you’re in a hurry a fiber-rich bar, some fruit, nuts, and a yogurt is a great pick. Choose plain yogurt to avoid unnecessary sugar (add a bit of honey if you need it for the flavor). Any fruit will do, but ounce for ounce kiwi has more vitamin C than an orange, and it’s also loaded with vitamin K, folate, and potassium.

About H.K. Jones: H. K. Jones is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, and nutrition professional based in Washington, D.C.