Top Breakfast Foods Nutritionists Swear By

Breakfast may be your favorite meal of the day, or the meal you kind of forget about until the hunger pangs strike. But eating breakfast can influence how you feel, and either set you up for a good day or a sluggish one.

Whether you make a quick and easy breakfast or a leisurely one, making time for breakfast is key. After all, food is fuel. “A balanced, nutritious morning meal gives your body the essential nutrients and energy it requires for optimal function,” said registered dietician (RD) Valerie Agyeman. “It helps to stabilize blood sugars, supports cognitive function, and influences neurotransmitters that affect [your] mood.”

Fueling up in the morning will give you energy for your day and can prevent health conditions, too. “Eating breakfast regularly can help reduce the risk of developing conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, and could support weight management,” said Samina Kallo, a New York-based registered dietician nutritionist (RDN).

In one study, published in April 2021, it was found that people who skip breakfast are more likely to eat more calories, saturated fat and more sugars throughout the day. A study in Japan that was published in February found a correlation between skipping breakfasts and pre diabetes among Japanese adolescents.

The importance of a well-balanced breakfast.

Choosing variety in the morning is key. “A well-balanced breakfast helps you start your day feeling energized and nourished, providing your body with what it needs to function optimally,” said RD Amy S. Margulies. “A balance of high-fiber carbs, satisfying proteins and healthy fats helps fuel your day with important nutrients your body needs, as well as satisfaction from your meal.”

Consuming foods rich in dietary fiber, such as whole grains and fruit, takes longer for your body to digest so you feel full longer. “This helps to avoid spiking your blood sugar, as well as keeping you full for longer,” Margulies said.

Fats often get a bad rap, yet the body needs healthy fat. “Healthy fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, help provide you with a sense of fullness, essential nutrients, and flavor and taste satisfaction,” Margulies explained.

And it’s important to consider your cultural food preferences, too. “We may be more familiar with oatmeal, toast and yogurt for breakfast, but this isn’t the case in other parts of the world,” Kalloo said. “I always say, ‘Any food could be breakfast food if you’d like!’” She explains everyone has diverse tastes and dietary needs as well as cultural preferences, so opting for variety is important.

In a nutshell, you need to find out what will work best for you. “I think breakfast is very rushed for most people ― no matter what their schedule is,” said RDN Jodi Greebel. Breakfast needs to be something realistic that you can prepare each day.

Below, HuffPost spoke to nutritionists for their favorite go-to breakfast foods.

Chia seed pudding

Juj Winn via Getty Images

A quarter cup of dry chia seeds provides 12 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber and 14 grams of healthy fat.

“Chia seed pudding is one of the simplest and most nutritionally dense breakfasts you can make,” said Oregon-based RDN Grace Clark-Hibbs. “All you need to do is mix a quarter cup dry chia seeds with one cup milk or milk substitute of your choice in a bowl or Mason jar and mix, making sure all the seeds are wet.” Let the chia seed mixture sit overnight, or you can soak it for 10-15 minutes until the seeds begin to soften and have a gel-like texture. Clark-Hibbs loves to top it with seasonal ingredients and granola. “My favorite toppings this time of year are fresh pomegranate seeds, cocoa powder, unsalted nuts, high-protein granola, half a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, and one tablespoon pure maple syrup.”

Chia seeds are packed with protein and fiber. “A quarter cup of dry chia seeds provides 12 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber and 14 grams of healthy fat,” Clark-Hibbs said. Chia seeds have essential minerals, including calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. These tiny seeds are nutrient-dense. “Chia seeds help support proper bone health, promote healthy digestion, and are an excellent source of antioxidants,” she said.

Corn arepas with cheese and eggs, and a fruit shake

For RDN Lorena Drago, a favorite breakfast is making corn arepas with eggs and fruit shake.

An arepa is a round, flattened pattie or cornmeal cake that can be stuffed or used similarly to bread. “I take corn niblets or fresh corn, and I put them in a food processor,” she said. “If it’s too thin, I add a little bit of pre-cooked corn flour (masarepa), and then I form a round disk and grill it.” She adds queso fresco, a low-saturated fat white cheese, which provides protein and calcium, an egg for protein and choline, and eats her fruit in a shake. She keeps her fruit shake simple by combining low-fat milk with frozen fruit, such as blueberries, strawberries, mango or guavas.

Corn is a whole grain and is high in minerals such as magnesium and potassium, as well as vitamin C, she explained. Corn also contains carotenoids, like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health. “Whole grains are important because they lower the chances of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 disease,” Drago said.


Whether you like your oats cooked or soaked in overnight oats, they're a good source of whole grains.

OatmealStories via Getty Images

Whether you like your oats cooked or soaked in overnight oats, they’re a good source of whole grains.

Oatmeal is a versatile meal because you can add your favorite toppings and is a favorite breakfast among nutritionists. “Overnight oats are a balanced bowl of whole grains, protein, healthy fats and produce,” Margulies said. “Overnight oats are one of the most satisfying breakfasts for a winter morning or any season.” All you have to do is minimal prep the night before.

Agyeman also recommends oatmeal. “I prefer steel-cut oatmeal because it’s packed with fiber, plant-based protein, B vitamins and essential minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium,” she said. “I cook it with almond or soy milk, and my go-to toppings are toasted walnuts, a dollop of peanut butter, blueberries, flaxseeds and a drizzle of honey.”

Kalloo tops her oatmeal with fruit and nut butter to add sweetness without using any sugar. To add more nutrients, she said, “I love to add finely ground flaxseed for omega-3 fatty acids and a little extra fiber to help meet my daily fiber requirement.”

How to make overnight oats (makes six servings), according to Margulies:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats, 2 cups milk (whatever milk or plant-based you prefer), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 3 tablespoons chia seeds.

  2. Pour the oat mixture into six small storage containers and cover them with a lid.

  3. Place in the fridge overnight.

  4. Remove the lid and heat each serving for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave, stirring halfway and adding more time as needed.

  5. Top with your favorite combinations, stir and enjoy!

Omelet with vegetables and corn tortillas

There are many ways to prepare eggs in the morning and serve them with some veggies for fiber and nutrients. “Eggs are a good source of protein and choline, which is necessary for cell structure, DNA synthesis and important in nervous system maintenance,” Drago said.

She makes a sofrito ― a combination of tomatoes, onions, garlic and olive oil ― to go with her eggs. “Sauteing onions and tomatoes, and garlic in extra virgin oil (sofrito) is full of polyphenols, which are conducive to heart health and improve metabolic syndrome,” Drago said. You can also make sofrito in advance and keep it in the fridge when you need a delicious tomato-based sauce. “Preparing sofrito and storing it in the refrigerator is a great way to season and prepare a meal when there is little time,” she said.

How to make a sofrito omelet, according to Drago:

  1. Saute fresh chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic and peppers in extra-virgin olive oil until soft.

  2. Add chopped frozen or fresh spinach and mix well in the pan over medium heat. Add 1 or 2 beaten eggs to the pan and cook through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Serve with corn tortillas, whole-wheat toast, whole-wheat pita bread or a corn arepa.

Scrambled eggs (in the microwave) on toast

Love eggs but don’t have the time to get out the frying pan? Consider making a scrambled egg in a ramekin in the microwave. This is a go-to breakfast for Greebel: “The microwave is a quick and easy way to make a scrambled egg.”

She tops her egg on an English muffin or piece of sourdough, which is good for probiotics and digestion. You can also add a layer of avocado to your scrambled eggs for healthy fat and fiber.

A well-balanced fruit and vegetable smoothie

Unconventional smoothie ingredients (like dark leafy greens) can taste delicious when they're properly blended.

Nadia Audigie via Getty Images

Unconventional smoothie ingredients (like dark leafy greens) can taste delicious when they’re properly blended.

Making a smoothie with plenty of fruit and veggies is a great breakfast option. If it’s the only thing you have in the morning, make sure it’s a balanced meal with protein, fat and fiber. “You can do this by adding protein or collagen powder, nuts or nut butter, and flax, hemp or chia seeds,” Clark-Hibbs said.

“Smoothies, if made thoughtfully, are great for you because they pack a lot of nutritional value into one serving,” she added.

Another benefit of drinking smoothies is they are a way to add lots of veggies and fruits into your diet. “They’re easier to digest because they are partially broken down for you already, and they can be made the night before for easy grab-and-go access in the morning,” Clark-Hibbs said.

There are some ingredients you may not consider adding to your smoothie, such as spinach or other dark leafy greens, celery, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. Clark-Hibbs adds these to a base of frozen or fresh fruit for a boost of nutrients. “I also like adding some fresh ginger, ground flax, hemp, chia seeds, flavorless protein powder and electrolytes to round off my smoothies,” she explained.

Making a smoothie is easy. “Fill the blender a quarter of the way with cold water, then add a small amount of each of your desired ingredients,” she said. “Blend, assess the consistency and flavor, and slowly adjust the ingredients based on your taste preferences.” Now you can sip on your nutrient-packed breakfast.

Yogurt with granola

Yogurt packs protein and fat, and when you top it with granola, you add fiber ― making it a well-balanced breakfast to keep you satisfied in the morning. Whatever style of yogurt you like — Icelandic, Greek style or regular yogurt — are all great options. “Icelandic or Greek yogurt tends to be higher in protein,” says Greebel, and “Icelandic yogurt is a little sweeter than Greek yogurt.” According to Margulies, “Greek yogurt is a protein powerhouse ― a single serving (5.3 ounces) has 14 grams of protein and 150 mg of calcium.”

Greebel loves to top her yogurt with granola and dried fruit, which adds fiber, while Margulies loves to add a cup of fresh berries and a tablespoon of peanuts.

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