Mornings can be hectic, and it might seem easier to hit repeat and grab that same-old cereal bar rather than taking the time to think of something more inspiring. However, a delicious, healthy breakfast will keep you feeling full, set your energy level for the day and bring you closer to your wellness and fitness goals. Steal some inspiration from the ideas below, designed for every breakfast dilemma.
If you love a carb-y breakfast …
Cereal, oats and other carb-loaded options can be healthy, and complex carbs can give you a steady energy boost. However, they tend to be low in protein, says nutritionist Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. “It’s incredibly important to consume enough protein at breakfast to maintain muscle mass and metabolism as we age,” she says. Protein also fills you up—another win.
Her suggestion: Whisk 3 tablespoons of whey or plant-based protein powder into milk, then top with cereal and fresh fruit. You can do the same with oatmeal by whisking a few tablespoons of protein powder into ¼ cup of milk and mixing it into cooked oatmeal. The more protein and flavor you pack in there, the more fulfilled your stomach—and your taste buds—will be. Don’t be afraid to experiment; try adding chocolate protein powder or more exotic fruits.
If you’re training for a race …
If your mornings are all about training runs or you always start the day by crushing it at the gym, you’re going to want to refuel before heading to work. Your breakfast goal should be to enhance rapid muscle recovery, so you’ll be ready for your next training session. With this in mind, aim for a mix of fast-digesting carbs and protein, suggests Molly Kimball, RD, a nutritionist based in New Orleans.
She suggests blending frozen mango cubes, a carton of plain low-fat Greek yogurt and milk, along with a serving of beetroot powder and a dash of cayenne. The beetroot powder is a rich source of nitrates. “Our body converts it to nitric oxide, which enhances blood vessel dilation and increases blood flow capacity. It can also help with recovery,” says Kimball. The fruit and dairy help replenish electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and calcium, which are critical for muscle function. In addition to giving your taste buds a flavor kick, the cayenne has anti-inflammatory properties to help with muscle recovery (and according to some studies, may jump-start your metabolism too).
If you’re not really a breakfast person …
Does the thought of a plate stacked with pancakes and sausage in the morning make you want to gag? Go ahead and have a little bite, instead. “Your body is low on energy, and your muscles are breaking down protein,” explains Kathy Siegel, RDN, a nutrition communication consultant in New Jersey.
Siegel suggests heading to the cottage cheese aisle of the store and picking up a pack of portable half-cup servings. Each contains 13 grams of protein to help keep you full and boost muscle synthesis and repair, she says. Top it off with hemp seeds. Three tablespoons of the nutty-tasting seeds contain 3 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein, plus the minerals iron, zinc and magnesium. Add sliced cherry tomatoes and basil if you want something even more savory.
If you’re looking to lose weight …
First, chug a big glass of H20, says Ilana Muhlstein, RD, a Los Angeles-based nutritionist. Then, go for a combo of fiber (for sustained energy) and protein (for satiety), which will help you stay on track toward your goals, she says.
Try an egg scramble made with two eggs and your veggies of choice (whatever vegetables you have on hand, like kale and mushrooms or peppers and onions). Then, serve it with a big handful of berries. Both raspberries and blackberries contain 8 grams of fiber per cup, and the sweetness of the berries will satiate your sweet tooth, too.
If you only have five minutes before running out the door …
A smoothie is the way to go. “You can pack tons of nutrients into an easily digestible breakfast,” says Keri Glassman, RD, a dietitian and healthy-living expert. It takes about five minutes to throw together, but if you don’t have that time in the morning, blend it the night before, put it into a travel cup and you’ll be ready to hit the road.
Glassman suggests adding greens to your morning smoothie. Broccoli rabe is a great choice because it offers 2 grams of fiber per cup, along with antioxidants like eyesight-preserving lutein and 100% of your daily vitamin K, which keeps bones strong. Glassman recommends blending almond milk, almond butter, banana, dates, broccoli rabe, oats, hemp seeds and vanilla.
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