I find that a lot of people I talk with are confused about what a nutritious, balanced, satisfying breakfast looks like. The answer to this is really different for everyone! Today I’m hoping to offer some basic ideas so that you can start your day off with some good fuel that should give you energy for several hours…
Why 400 calories? Let me start by saying that there is no “right” number of calories to eat for breakfast. Everybody has different calorie needs and those needs may vary day-to-day, meal-to-meal. One morning you might want a quick 200 calories since you plan on having an early lunch. Another day you may wake up starving and need a hefty 600 calories because you had a very early and light meal the night before. Perhaps you snuck in an hour-long run first thing in the morning and seriously need to refuel with extra protein and calories.
Listen and pay attention to your appetite. Your appetite will remain steadier and feel much more in control when you eat on a regular basis and avoid going too long without eating. Also, think about how to best pair up foods to maximize satiety. Figure out what works for YOU!
These breakfasts are more to serve as ideas rather than a specific calorie number to aim for. 400 seems like an “average” number that most people can relate to. 400 calories are plenty to satisfy while at the same time leaving enough room for the rest of your days worth of meals and snacks. For example: Say you eat about 1800 calories per day. That means one potential meal breakdown could be 400 for breakfast, 400 for lunch, 400 for dinner, plus 3 snacks of 200 calories each. Obviously, those numbers can be tweaked to adjust for personal eating schedules and preferences.
Now on to the breakfasts!
(The nutritional stats are derived from inputting these foods into FitDay.com)
1. Overnight Banana Oats (or eat ’em fresh)
Ingredients: 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, 1 mashed banana, 1T raisins, 1T chia seeds.
- 398 calories
- 17 g protein
- 15 g fiber
- 16% protein, 23% fat, 61% carbohydrate
Why I like this breakfast: Aside from it being sweet, creamy, cool, delicious and filling…. there is zero work to be done in the morning aside from opening the fridge, pulling out your container and grabbing a spoon.
You don’t need to soak them overnight. Yes, oats can be eaten raw and yes, they are good! Eaten this way (like muesli), the oats won’t have time to soak up the liquid from the soy milk and you’ll be eating it more like you would a cereal. My mom does this most mornings– her fav is rolled oats, sunflower seeds, walnuts, raisins, shredded coconut and unsweetened soy milk. She’ll use whatever nuts/seeds/dried fruits she has around. Good for you Mom!
2. Millet Rice Cereal with Soy Milk and Raspberries
Ingredients: 1 cup cereal, 1 cup soy milk, 1 cup raspberries
- 324 calories
- 16 g protein
- 16 g fiber
- 19% protein, 22% fat, 59% carbohydrate
Why I like this breakfast: I go for this one when I feel like some sweetness plus crunch. I also like it because it kind of makes me feel like a kid again. I grew up eating boxed cereals with milk most mornings. Two main things to consider with boxed cereals are the added sugars and the fiber. High fiber and low sugar is ideal. Read the ingredient list as well to know what you are eating. The first ingredient in this cereal is whole oat flour. They use pear juice/grape juice concentrate to make it slightly sweet and the sugar is only 4 g per serving. I want to feel good about the ingredients in packaged foods and this is definitely one of the better cereals– but look around and find one that you like. Consider adding a few walnuts, almonds or pecans for healthy fats that will keep you full longer!
3. Ezekiel Toast with Peanut Butter and Strawberries
Ingredients: 2 Slices of toast, 1.5 T peanut butter, 1 cup strawberries
- 350 calories
- 13 g protein
- 8.5 g fiber
- 13% protein, 32% fat, 55% carbohydrate
Why I like this breakfast: It seems like quite a lot of food for under 400 calories! I don’t eat a lot of bread but when I do I like the sprouted grain varieties like Ezekiel. I buy it frozen and keep it in the freezer so it lasts a long time. Plus it tastes amazing toasted– my favorite is the cinnamon raisin. Their english muffins are awesome too. One whole english muffin is the equivalent to 2 slices of their bread.
4. Homemade Granola Bar with a Side of Fresh Fruit
Ingredients: 1/9 of No-Bake Granola Bar recipe, 1 peach
Nutrition stats: (without the flax seeds, as Chris cannot stand flax seeds)
- 388 calories
- 11 g protein
- 7 g fiber
- 10% protein, 44% fat, 46% carbohydrate
Why I like this breakfast: Whip up a batch of bars, stash them in the fridge and you’ve got 9 instant breakfasts! They also make nice snacks; sometimes I’ll cut one in half or quarters if I just feel like a little something sweet. This is Chris’s daily breakfast every single workday. He’s got 2 containers he packs for work, one for a bar and one for fruit. The fruit varies each day from pineapple to strawberries to blueberries to melon to grapes to oranges to grapefruits, etc. The granola bar flavors vary slightly too, depending on what types of nuts/seeds I add. Those 2 containers are filled the night before and ready to grab and go into his backpack and off to enjoy at work with his coffee. Hint: To boost the protein while decreasing the fat content of these granola bars, try adding 1/2 cup protein powder in place of flax.
There you have them. No more excuses as to why you have to stop at you-know-where for a fatty, gross breakfast sandwich or a sugary doughnut. You may notice a theme with these healthy breakfasts: Each contains a whole grain, a good protein source, healthy plant-based fats and fruit. This equals a fiber-rich, vitamin and mineral dense, low-glycemic meal that should start you off to a great day.
Let me know what you’ve been having for breakfast…