I hate making breakfast. Did you think just because I’m a dietitian that I love to wake up and cook a big ole breakfast for my family? No way! The easier the better! Which is why I just knew I had to write a blog post on this frequently asked question.
Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? I don’t think there is a MOST important meal of the day. There are benefits to all meals but breakfast is the time when your body starts to get revved up for the day. When you eat carbohydrates in the morning, they break down into glucose which is the type of energy your brain loves. You may have noticed times when you’ve skipped breakfast that your head doesn’t feel as clear as it does when you eat a balanced breakfast.
So do you have to eat right when you wake up? Nope. In fact, I don’t eat right away after I wake up because I don’t instantly feel hungry. If you’d rather have your coffee and get moving first, that is A-OK! I do recommend trying to eat something within the first 1-2 hours of waking up.
Does breakfast have to be a big meal? No! It can be if you’re hungry or you need the nutrition. Pay attention to your own needs and hunger. The way you eat in the morning may be dependent on what your day will bring. For example, if you are heading out for a 12 mile run, your breakfast will likely look a little different than someone heading into work to sit at a desk for hours.
Another big reason why I think breakfast is important has to do with food distribution. As a dietitian and nutrition coach, I often find that people who skip breakfast end up overeating by the end of the day. I see this all the time! You may think you’re doing something good by “cutting out calories or fasting” early on in the day but ya know what happens? You ignore your hunger cues so long that you’re ravenous by late afternoon/early evening and you can’t stop eating everything in sight. Sometimes it feels like you can’t get full. Do you know this feeling?
So now that I’ve told you all about why I think breakfast is important, let’s talk about how to make it as easy as possible and what your breakfast should include.
Carbohydrates. These guys give you energy and who doesn’t need that first thing in the morning? Some easy sources include fruit, whole grain toast, yogurt, milk, and granola bars.
Protein. You may think of protein as necessary for building muscle, and it absolutely is, but did you know it also helps stabilize blood sugars? Have you noticed how if you eat a bowl of cereal, you’re starving an hour later? Try adding a little protein like scrambled eggs, Greek yogurt, or turkey sausage with it and I bet you’ll be surprised how much longer you stay full.
Fat. Healthy fats take a little longer to digest so they also help you stay full for longer! You can sprinkle flaxseed in your smoothie, a thin layer of nut butter on your granola bar, or some avocado on your toast.
Let’s put it all together! Here are a few ideas for quick, healthy, on-the-go breakfasts!
Smoothies. These can be a great way to get a few servings of fruits and vegetables in your day. It’s also easy to sip on when you’re on your way to work or as you get going for the day. Want to make it even easier? Put together baggies with your frozen ingredients and pull a bag out of the freezer when you’re ready to make it!
Packaged breakfast cups. A few of my favorites are Just Crack An Egg or Kodiak Cake Cups. Both of these are so easy and only require you to add an egg or add some milk or water. They’re pretty well-balanced on the nutrition front too.
Microwavable turkey sausage. Protein is the macronutrient that most people think is the hardest to add at breakfast time. Grab some microwavable turkey sausage or bacon and have it with things like toast or cereal and a side of fruit.
Granola bar with nut butter. This is my go-to. I love the Kind Healthy Grains bar with a tablespoon of peanut butter layered on top. What kind of bar is completely up to you and your preference and needs! But this requires no work and tastes great.
Coffee cup egg scramble. Have you tried this one before? If you’re a fan of eggs, you’ll like this one. Grab a coffee cup, spray with cooking spray, and crack an egg or two into it. Add a splash of milk and scramble it up. Pop it in the microwave for about 45 seconds then remove it, stir, and pop it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds or so. You can add chopped peppers, cheese, crumbled sausage, or whatever else sounds good!
High protein microwavable waffles and pancakes. Did you know they make pre-made frozen waffles and pancakes? You just have to microwave for a short amount of time and they’re ready to go! Kodiak Cakes is my personal favorite.
High protein oatmeal with berries. You can do this with overnight oats or with a packet of instant oatmeal. Just add some protein powder and mix well. Add berries or peanut butter for a little extra flavor.
If you like to meal prep, you can always make breakfast sandwiches or burritos and freeze them. Then you can just pull them out of the freezer as needed. I’m not a fan of frozen meals personally because I think they taste different after being frozen (I know, I’m sure it’s in my head), so it’s not how I roll, but I know so many people who live off of frozen meals and love it! It’s a really great option for those busy mornings.
And to end this blog post, I want to remind you that planning is key! Even with easy breakfasts, try to have an idea of what you’re going to have for breakfast to keep your morning running smoothly and help keep you out of the drive thru line!