Healthy Fast Food Breakfasts is considered to be the main meal of the day. Various studies show that breakfast helps adults feel better and children learn better. Recently, however, there have been many publications and studies that significantly diminish the role of morning meals. “Mel”, having dug up a lot of scientific papers, decided to figure out whether breakfast is as useful as it is commonly believed.
Let’s put aside situations in which a person is limited by diet or medical advice on nutrition. In some cases, it is really helpful to skip breakfast. In addition, nutritionists do not have a single opinion about the morning meal. Five different experts can give five different recommendations on what and when to eat, depending on which system (or, more correctly, ideology) they adhere to. We will try to understand how breakfast affects the body of ordinary healthy children and adults.
“Healthy fast-food breakfast” may sound like an oxymoron, but as consumers become increasingly aware of their own health and well-being, many popular chains have made a concerted effort to create nutritious meals that are designed to help you start your day off on the right foot.
While the majority of fast-food breakfasts aren’t great for your overall health (see: 15 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Breakfasts To Never Eat, According to Dietitians) there are a handful that are tasty and satisfying. What’s more? Many of these healthier breakfast options are packed with protein, which means you’ll likely feel full and satiated until it’s time to move on to lunch.
Why Healthy Fast Food Breakfasts?
Since it can be tricky to discern what constitutes a healthy breakfast choice and what dishes you should skip, we reached out to a team of registered dietitians to get their input on the most nutritious fast-food breakfasts around.
The fast food chains are no longer what they were. Before, we’d only find greasy burgers, fries, and calorie-dense desserts. Now, however, the trend has changed. In general, we have begun to take care of ourselves and worry about our figure, partly due to erotic capital.
It is common to enter a McDonald’s , a VIPS or a Telepizza and find healthy versions of our favorite foods. Salads, vegetables, fine dough, yogurts and fruits are part of a wide offer that fast food chains have incorporated into their menu.
But what about for breakfast? Is it also possible to have the first meal of the day in one of these restaurants? The answer is yes. Karen Ansel , author of ‘Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging’, recommends that we consume 300 to 400 calories from protein, fiber and some healthy fat. “If you can have a serving of fruits or vegetables, the better. And some chains actually allow you to do it.”
We collect some selections from the main chains.
1) Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites
There are plenty of good breakfast options at Starbucks, but the sous vide egg bites are best if you’re craving eggs sans bread.
“The Starbucks sous vide egg bites are super high in protein, have adequate calories (170 to 350 calories) depending on flavor, and contain no carbs,” says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN.
Our pick: The egg white and red pepper egg bites clock in 170 calories, 13 grams of protein, and only seven grams of fat.
Nutrition info: 170 calories, 7 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 500 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 13 g protein
2) McDonald’s Egg McMuffin
Yes, you can have your McDonald’s and eat it, too. The Egg McMuffin is built with eggs, Canadian bacon, and cheese on an English muffin to supercharge you through lunch.
“I know it sounds unhealthy, but with only 300 calories and 18 grams of protein, an Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s will fill you up not out, and an added bonus is that you can eat it on-the-fly,” Shapiro says.
Nutrition info: 300 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 750 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 18 g protein
3) McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
Fruit & Maple Oatmeal contains two of the three recommended daily servings of whole grains and about half a cup of fruit. It is made with 100% natural whole oats, light cream and brown sugar , and served topped with fresh red and green apples, delicious dried cranberries and two types of sweet raisins. It has 290 calories (without syrups).
4) Starbucks Cheese and Spinach Wrap
“This roasted whole-grain snack covers half of our vitamin A and a quarter of our calcium needs, plus it has spinach and tomatoes,” says Karen Ansel, author of ‘ Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer .’ And it has just 290 calories.
5) Burger King Toast
In true Catalan style , you have bread with crushed tomato and oil. A very healthy option for only 188 calories.
Why breakfast is so important?
Molecular biology and physiologist John L. Ivey of the University of Texas at Austin argues that the rest of the day depends on your morning meal. Breakfast has a positive effect on a person’s cognitive performance, and if carbohydrates are not replenished in the morning, then low blood glucose levels will negatively affect intellectual activity.
This is confirmed by experts from the University of Milan, who analyzed several studies related to the effect of regular breakfast on children. According to these studies, those who skip their morning meal experience problems with short-term memory, mindfulness, and decision-making ability. However, scientists have not found a clear reason why breakfast has a positive effect on cognitive performance.
John L. Ivey explains this by saying that breakfast allows you to instantly restore lost energy reserves and quickly raises blood glucose levels after sleep to normal. In addition, it replenishes glycogen stores in muscles and liver cells, which has a positive effect on performance.
A balanced breakfast provides a person with enough carbohydrates to increase their physical activity and endurance throughout the day.
In addition, the scientist adds, the morning meal instantly reduces the level of cortisol in the blood – a hormone involved in the development of stress reactions, the concentration of which rises just in the morning due to the body’s need to maintain metabolism throughout the night.
Breakfast according to Ivy also has a positive effect on the secretion of gastrointestinal hormones, some of which regulate appetite. If you eat a heavy meal in the morning, then the feeling of fullness will persist for a relatively long time, and a person will eat less during the day. Thus, Ivy sees breakfast as a tool for maintaining or losing weight. According to the statistics cited by the scientist, 78% of people whose diet is considered successful (that is, a person has lost more than 10% of weight and retained a new weight for at least two years), regularly ate food in the morning. Interestingly, people who ate breakfast, on average, lost 50% more weight than those who did not eat breakfast, but consumed the same number of calories throughout the day.
This applies to both adults and children. According to a study cited by experts from the University of Milan, among 14,000 American children aged nine to 14 who refused breakfast, 26.4% of boys and 25.3% of girls were overweight.
Finally, in adults, not eating breakfast can lead to chronic illness. In 2013, Harvard scientists published their study : adults who skip their morning meal have a 27% higher risk of heart disease than those who eat regularly. Another curious detail has emerged: those who regularly gorge themselves at night are at even greater risk. They are 55% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who do not eat before bed.
Can these studies be trusted?
Last May, Indiana University School of Medicine pediatrics professor Aaron Carroll wrote a column for The New York Times in which he questioned conventional wisdom about the benefits of breakfast and was skeptical about the research findings. Carroll himself does not eat until about noon, limiting himself to a cup of coffee. This is not a diet, just at 7:30 in the morning, when the professor leaves for work, he does not feel hungry and does not see any need to force himself to have breakfast. At the same time, he does not complain about feeling unwell.
As an example, the scientist cites just the very study of Harvard specialists, in which, in his opinion, the correct data are given, but the cause-and-effect relationships are violated. That is, there is no evidence that it is breakfast that can reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases.
Most scientists or nutritionists who talk about the almost magical power of breakfast limit themselves to observational studies . There is nothing wrong with this, but you need to remember that, firstly, they may not take into account certain external factors, and secondly, the morning meal itself is not a constant. This is not a drug that should have a clear clinical effect.
Roughly speaking, it is important not only whether a person has breakfast or not, but also what exactly he eats in the morning and throughout the day.
If he eats a huge burger right after waking up, then it is unlikely that this will have a positive effect on his health, and one does not even need to conduct research to prove it.
As for other factors, researchers can often omit or present as auxiliary, but not influencing the results and conclusions of statistics, such parameters as social status, daily routine, the presence or absence of bad habits, genetic predisposition and much more.
It is logical to assume that children from wealthier families eat better and more often than those who grow up in a disadvantaged environment. This was confirmed by employees of the University of Florida, who analyzed 85 scientific papers, and found that children who eat breakfast regularly, in general, lead a healthier lifestyle.
It is also important that many popular studies are generally of dubious scientific value. As an example, Aaron Carroll cites a cereal benefit publication funded by breakfast cereal maker Kellogg, as well as similar work commissioned by a PepsiCo division. It is easy to assume that the conclusions are made exclusively in favor of morning meals.
In 2013, an article was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that analyzed popular publications related to the benefits of breakfast. The authors of this work concluded that the more material appears on the benefits of morning meals, the more people believe in the magic power of breakfast, while the quality of the evidence used remains the same. However, many of these publications suffer from flawed methodology, erroneous conclusions, or simply based on misinterpreted data.
PS: Information from the MEL website
Healthier Drive-Thru Meals
Unexpected hunger pangs happen to the best of us, and they seem to hit at the most inconvenient of times–like when you’re out running errands or miles from anywhere on a long road trip. Having healthy, travel-friendly snacks on hand can certainly diminish the dazzle of the drive-thru in these situations–but let’s be honest. Eating on the fly is sometimes unavoidable, even for the most prepared.
Thankfully, fast food restaurants are realizing not everyone wants to eat unhealthy while on the go, and today many popular chains offer healthier options for nutrition-conscious consumers. If you’ve ever made the mistake of ordering a 1,000 calorie salad though, you know some of those seemingly healthy choices aren’t actually healthy at all.
To help you navigate your way through the drive-thru, here are 10 healthier meals to consider ordering the next time hunger strikes while you’re on the road:
STARBUCKS’ SPINACH AND FETA BREAKFAST WRAP
Calories: 290; Total Fat: 10g; Saturated Fat: 3.5g; Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium: 830mg; Carbohydrates: 33g; Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 4g; Protein: 19g
PANERA BREAD’S AVOCADO EGG WHITE & SPINACH BREAKFAST POWER SANDWICH
Calories: 410; Total Fat: 14g; Sodium: 600mg; Carbohydrates: 52g; Fiber: 7g, Protein: 22g
MCDONALD’S FRUIT ‘N YOGURT PARFAIT
Calories: 150; Total Fat: 2g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 5mg; Sodium: 80mg; Carbohydrates: 30g; Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 23g; Protein: 4g
TACO BELL’S MINI SKILLET BOWL
Calories: 180; Total Fat: 11g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 100mg; Sodium: 430mg; Carbohydrates: 16g; Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g; Protein: 5g
LUNCH & DINNER OPTIONS
PANERA BREAD’S POWER CHICKEN HUMMUS BOWL
Calories: 270; Total Fat: 10g; Sodium: 500mg; Carbohydrates: 18g; Fiber: 4g, Protein: 27g
Check out their whole Power Menu here.
SUBWAY’S 6″ OVEN ROASTED CHICKEN SUB
Calories: 320; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 45mg; Sodium: 610mg; Carbohydrates: 46g; Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 23g
Ordering Tip: Get it on 9-grain wheat bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cucumbers.
CHIPOTLE’S STEAK BURRITO BOWL WITH ROMAINE, FAJITA VEGETABLES, BLACK BEANS AND GREEN TOMATILLO SALSA
Calories: 310; Total Fat: 8g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 80mg; Sodium: 1,015mg; Carbohydrates: 32g; Fiber: 15g, Sugar: 5g; Protein: 29g
MCDONALD’S ARTISAN GRILLED CHICKEN SANDWICH
Calories: 380; Total Fat: 6g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 95mg; Sodium: 960mg; Carbohydrates: 44g; Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 11g; Protein: 37g
Ordering Tip: Make it an open-faced sandwich to save 100 calories and cut 165mg sodium and nearly 20g carbs.
QUIZNOS’ 4″ TUNA SUB WITH CHEESE
Calories: 320; Total Fat: 11g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 40mg; Sodium: 770mg; Carbohydrates: 36g; Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 19g
Ordering Tip: Just ask to hold the dressing.
WENDY’S ASIAN CASHEW CHICKEN SALAD
Calories: 380; Total Fat: 14g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 85mg; Sodium: 850mg; Potassium: 1030, Carbohydrates: 30g; Fiber: 6g; Sugar: 18g; Protein: 37g
Ordering Tip: Ask for just one packet of dressing.
Nutrition Note: Many fast foods, even the healthier options, contain a lot of sodium. These meals provide more than 35% (805 mg) of the daily recommendation for sodium. Try to select lower-sodium foods at other meals & snacks throughout the day to balance it out.
Healthy Breakfast Foods That Help You Lose Weight
When you’re trying to lose weight, breakfast can set the tone for the rest of your day.
Consuming the wrong foods can amplify your cravings and set you up for failure before the day even begins.
On the other hand, filling up on the right foods can curb cravings and keep you feeling full until lunchtime to minimize snacking and ease weight loss.
Healthy breakfast foods that can help you lose weight:
Rich in protein and a wealth of important vitamins and minerals, such as selenium and riboflavin, eggs are a true powerhouse of nutrition. Thanks to their high protein content, eggs may reduce appetite when eaten with breakfast to give weight loss a serious boost. For example, one study in 30 overweight women showed that eating eggs for breakfast significantly increased feelings of fullness and reduced food intake later in the day, compared to eating a bagel. Similarly, another study in 152 adults found that replacing a bagel breakfast with eggs resulted in 65% more weight loss and a 34% greater decrease in waist circumference over an eight-week period. From boiled to scrambled to sunny-side-up, there are many different ways to enjoy your eggs. Try cooking up two or three eggs any style, then combining them with a serving of your favorite veggies, for a nutritious and delicious breakfast.
- Wheat Germ
Wheat germ is a component of the wheat kernel that contains a concentrated amount of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, thiamine and selenium. It’s also high in fiber, boasting nearly 4 grams of fiber in each 1-ounce (28-gram) serving. Studies show that increasing your fiber intake from cereal grains may benefit weight loss.
In one study, eating a high-fiber cereal was effective at reducing appetite and food intake, as well as helping stabilize blood sugar after a meal. Another study followed over 27,000 men for a period of eight years and found that a higher intake of cereal fiber was associated with a lower risk of weight gain. Try using wheat germ as a topping for oatmeal, smoothies or yogurt bowls to add a bit of crunch and some extra fiber to your breakfast.
High in fiber but low in calories, bananas are a great alternative to sugary breakfast cereals to satisfy your sweet tooth first thing in the morning. One medium banana has just over 100 calories yet packs 3 grams of dietary fiber — knocking out up to 12% of your daily fiber needs in one shot. Fiber helps slow the emptying of your stomach to curb cravings and keep you feeling fuller longer. Multiple studies have found that upping your intake of fiber from fruits and vegetables is associated with increased weight loss. Additionally, unripe bananas are a good source of resistant starch, a type of starch that your stomach and small intestine don’t digest. Research suggests that resistant starch may help reduce food intake and decrease belly fat. Bananas can be enjoyed alone or sliced as a topping for yogurt, cottage cheese or oatmeal. You can also add unripe, green bananas to your morning smoothie for a hearty dose of resistant starch.
Creamy, delicious and satisfying, yogurt makes an excellent addition to a weight loss diet. In particular, Greek yogurt delivers a hearty chunk of protein in every serving, making it an ideal weight loss breakfast food. One study in 20 women found that eating high-protein yogurt as a snack decreased levels of hunger and reduced food intake by 100 calories later in the day, compared to unhealthy snacks like chocolate and crackers. Another study in 8,516 people showed that those who ate at least seven servings of yogurt each week had a lower risk of being overweight or obese compared to those who did not regularly consume yogurt. Try combining one cup (285 grams) of Greek yogurt with some mixed fruit, chia seeds or wheat germ for an especially nutritious breakfast.
Not only are smoothies a quick and easy way to obtain a concentrated dose of nutrients, they also double as a convenient breakfast item that can accelerate weight loss. Since you can customize your ingredients, you can tailor your drink to fit your personal preferences. Filling your smoothies with veggies and low-calorie fruits can boost fiber intake to help you feel fuller longer. Throw in some high-protein ingredients like nuts, seeds or protein powder to promote feelings of fullness and fight off cravings. However, keep in mind that smoothies can quickly turn into calorie bombs if you overdo the high-calorie ingredients. For an easy weight loss smoothie, blend one cup (240 ml) of milk with a handful of leafy greens, two tablespoons (28 grams) of chia seeds and one cup (144 grams) of strawberries. Enjoy your smoothie throughout the morning to resist snacking and combat cravings.
Berry varieties such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all incredibly nutrient-dense, meaning they’re low in calories but packed with essential nutrients. In addition to providing many important vitamins and minerals, berries are rich in fiber, which may reduce hunger and food intake. In fact, one study in 12 women found that swapping a high-sugar afternoon snack for a serving of mixed berries reduced calorie intake later in the day by an average of 133 calories. Another study in 133,468 adults showed that each daily serving of berries was associated with 1.1 pounds (0.5 kg) of weight loss over a four-year period. Add berries to your morning smoothie, oatmeal or yogurt to take advantage of their unique weight-busting benefits.
Grapefruits are a popular component of many diets and weight loss programs — and for good reason. Besides being low in calories, grapefruits have a high water and fiber content — both of which can be beneficial for weight loss. One study in 91 obese adults showed that eating half a grapefruit before meals resulted in significant weight loss, compared to a control group. In the 12-week study, participants who ate grapefruit lost an average of 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) — about five times more than the control group. In an 85-person study, consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice before a meal for 12 weeks and pairing it with a low-calorie diet, decreased body fat mass by 1.1%, increased weight loss by 7.1% and reduced calorie intake by 20–29%. Fresh grapefruit slices make a great addition to a well-rounded breakfast. You can also add grapefruit to parfaits, smoothies or fruit salads. However, if you are taking any drugs make sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist before eating grapefruit. Certain drugs may interact with grapefruit, potentially causing some adverse effects.
Some studies have found that your morning cup of joe could bring big weight loss benefits. Because of its caffeine content, coffee may aid weight loss by boosting metabolism and fat burning. According to one small study in eight men, caffeine consumption increased metabolism by 13% and enhanced fat breakdown. Another study in 58,157 adults showed that coffee may aid long-term weight control, as increased coffee intake was associated with less weight gain over a 12-year period. While coffee may not make a balanced breakfast all on its own, you can easily pair it with your favorite healthy breakfast foods to give your morning meal an upgrade. Just make sure not to overdo the sugar or creamer, as they add calories and negate some of coffee’s potential health-promoting properties.