Healthier Breakfast Options

Healthier Breakfast Options

Last week we discussed whether or not foods should be classified as healthy or unhealthy.  If you missed last week’s article, check it out before reading this one! As a little refresher, whether or not a food is healthy or unhealthy is multifactorial and it is entirely context dependent.  A diet that would generally be considered healthy could actually be unhealthy if taken to excess, and a diet that would generally be considered unhealthy could actually be healthy in certain contexts.  This is not a black and white issue, so it shouldn’t be thought of as such. This week we will discuss a few healthy breakfast options and talk about what makes them healthier than other common choices.  Foods will be listed along with their calorie and macronutrient contents written as calories, protein(p)/carbohydrate(c)/fat(f).

Scrambled Eggs vs. Scrambled Egg + Egg White

Scrambled Eggs (2, generic) 140cal, 12p/0c/10f Scrambled Egg and Egg White 87cal, 10p/0c/5f

Eggs are great.  They are rich in protein and multiple vitamins and minerals.  The only problem is that they are also rich in fat because of the yolk.  If you are trying to lose weight, you might consider having one full egg along with one or two egg whites instead of 2-3 whole eggs.  This way you will still get a breakfast high in protein with half of the fat. If you aren’t trying to lose weight, go ahead and eat whole eggs!

2% Milk vs. Fat-Free Milk

2% Milk, 1cup 120cal, 8p/12c/5f Fat-Free Milk , 1 cup 80cal, 8p/12c/0f

Milk is also great.  It is a quick, cheap, and easy form of complete protein, and it is also high in calcium.  Similar to eggs though, it is also pretty high in fat. If you’re having a big glass of 2% milk, you’re probably consuming 240 or more calories and 10 or more grams of fat.  Just like with eggs, this doesn’t make 2% milk inherently bad or unhealthy, but if you’re trying to lose weight you may consider switching to fat-free milk instead. This way you nearly cut the calories in half while keeping all of the protein.  There is even a brand called “Fairlife” that makes milk with almost double the amount of protein per serving. Check it out!

Whole Fat Yogurt vs. Non-Fat Yogurt

Greek Yogurt (Greek Gods, 1 cup) 220cal, 9p/15c/14f Fat Free Yogurt (Oikos, 1 cup) 170cal, 22p/21c/0f

Greek yogurt is a protein rich yogurt that is a great alternative to other forms of yogurt.  Similar to milk, it comes in various types with differing amounts of fat, protein, and carbohydrate.  Whole fat yogurts are much higher in calories, so if you’re trying to lose weight if may be worth looking into fat free options.  My favorite type is Oikos Triple Zero yogurt because it is not only non-fat, it also has more protein than any other greek yogurt I’ve seen.  Eating foods high in protein not only helps you fulfill your daily protein requirements, it also helps to keep you feeling full for longer and causes your body to burn more calories during digestion.  

Orange Juice vs. Oranges

Orange Juice (Simply, 1 cup) 110cal, 2p/26c/0f Orange (generic, 1 piece of fruit) 45cal, 1p/11c/0f

Fruit juices are delicious, but they are definitely not the same as actual fruit.  Replacing fruit juices with actual fruit is an easy and cost effective way for you to cut some calories from your diet.  Using orange juice as an example, you can see that a cup of orange juice has over double the amount of calories and carbs that an orange has.  Keep in mind that if you’re pouring a glass of orange juice, you’re probably having more than one serving! Orange juice also doesn’t have the same fiber content as oranges, which means it doesn’t make you feel full the same way eating an orange does and it also takes much less energy for your body to digest.  It is very easy to drink calories, which is problematic if you’re trying to lose weight. Try swapping out your orange juice (or any other fruit juice) for actual fruit!

Bagel vs. English Muffin

Bagel (1, generic) 230cal, 7p/55c/2.5f English Muffin (1, Thomas) 100cal, 3p/28c/1f

Everyone loves a good bagel.  Especially when it’s covered in butter or cream cheese… Only problem is that bagels are typically very calorie dense.  Obviously there are many different kinds of bagels and some are better than others, but in general they are all very high in calories due to a high carb and sometimes fat content.  A less calorie dense alternative to bagels is English muffins. English muffins have less than half the calories that bagels have, so if you’re looking to cut some calories consider making the switch.  

Bacon and/or Sausage vs. Canadian Bacon and/or Chicken Sausage

Bacon (2 slices, Smithfield thick cut) 120cal, 6p/0c/10f Canadian Bacon (2 slices, Hormel)70cal, 10p/1c/2.5f

Sausage (Johnsonville, 1 patty)100cal, 5p/0c/9f Chicken Sausage (Johnsonville, 1 patty) 80 cal, 7p/0c/5f

Bacon and sausage are some of my favorite foods.  It’s hard to beat the taste of a perfectly crisp strip of bacon or sausage patty.  But as tasty as these foods may be, it is important to consume them in moderation because they are high in calories and very easy to overeat.  Some less calorie dense, higher protein options to bacon and sausage are Canadian bacon and chicken sausage. Both of these foods have higher protein contents than regular bacon or sausage, which means they’re harder to over-consume and they take more energy to break down and digest.  They also have fewer calories due to the lower fat contents.

Butter vs. Avocado

Butter (2 tbsp)180cal, 0p/0c/20f Avocado (2tbsp) 60cal, 1p/3c/5f

Butter is a common thing to spread on toast, bagels, and English muffins, etc. because it is so tasty.  However, butter is very high in fat and low in nutrients. 2 tablespoons of butter has almost 200 calories by itself, and most people probably use far more than this amount.  Instead of spreading butter on your bread, try spreading avocado on it instead. Avocados are a great source of essential fatty acids as well as multiple vitamins and minerals and they’re much lower in calories than butter!

General Considerations for a Healthy Breakfast

Like we discussed last week, you shouldn’t demonize any certain foods.  This article was just meant to give you some ideas about how to make your breakfast a little healthier if that’s something you’re looking to do.  Limit the amount of processed foods like bacon, cereal, bagels, and orange juice, and increase your consumption of single ingredient foods such as oranges and avocados.