If you’re a breakfast enthusiast, you know what it feels like to go to bed and dream of your morning meal the next day, or how planning what you’re going to have for breakfast on a given day can motivate you to get out of bed faster than anything else in the morning. The options for a delicious, satisfying breakfast at the top of the day are seemingly infinite—however, some options are much healthier than others, which is especially important to be cognizant of if you’re a breakfast enthusiast who is also trying to lose weight. But what makes for a healthy breakfast, anyway? And if you’re in the process of trying to shed a few pounds, are there any easy, nutritious, delicious breakfast food swaps that can be made to compensate for the less-than-healthy alternatives your diet encourages you to avoid?
When looking for breakfast ideas that can aid in weight loss, a crucial component is finding items that can help you stay fuller for longer, leaving you satiated until it’s time for lunch. This can help prevent needless snacking and overeating during the day, which can increase your calorie consumption and counter your weight loss goals. A meal that is going to keep you full through the morning usually consists of two key nutrients: fiber and protein. Fiber has been found to help reduce hunger hormones and feelings of hunger in general, and protein can lower hunger hormone levels as well. On top of that, higher-protein meals have been linked to greater feelings of fullness as a whole after eating.
Despite this awareness, finding breakfast options that are both full of fiber and protein can be challenging, especially when foods like bagels, donuts, and muffins sometimes seem like the most convenient options. This is exactly why we interviewed a handful of expert dietitians to get their suggestions on breakfast food swap ideas that can also help you lose weight. These swaps are easy enough for anyone to make and full of nutritious ingredients that will actually satisfy your appetite and keep you full. Read on to find out which breakfast food swaps come highly recommended by these dietitians, and for more healthy eating advice to get the best out of every breakfast, be sure to also read the 5 Best Breakfast Proteins for Weight Loss.
If you’re looking for a super simple breakfast food swap, our dietitians suggest starting out by buying whole grain bread instead of white bread or bagels.
“Whole grain bread will give the body a boost of fiber, which can give your toast some staying power,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility, “And unlike white bread, whole grain bread tends to be digested slower, allowing for a more satiating meal.”
Another thing that you can replace with whole grain bread is a bagel. “A bagel contains a lot of calories but is usually devoid of fiber,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and member of our Medical Expert Board. “Instead, a slice of whole grain toast is high in fiber—which helps you feel full and stabilizes blood sugar levels—as well as other healthy nutrients like folate and magnesium.”
Eat This: Waffles or pancakes with Greek yogurt and fruit
Not That!: Waffles doused in maple syrup
Benefits of this swap: Instead of tons of added sugars and refined carbs, you’ll get added protein and fiber, with much less sugar.
You don’t always have to completely ditch your favorite sweet breakfast treats in order to stick to your weight loss goals. If you’re a waffle lover, try swapping out the maple syrup for something more protein and fiber-heavy, like Greek yogurt.
“While syrup adds a pop of sweetness to waffles, it doesn’t contribute to fullness,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Expert Medical Board. A breakfast of waffles and maple syrup is almost entirely carbohydrate and sugar-based, which will leave you feeling hungry much sooner, which may lead to mid-morning snacking.
To combat the empty, sugary calories, Goodson suggests “topping your waffles with Greek yogurt and fresh fruit instead.”
“The protein in yogurt and fiber in the fruit both contribute to helping you stay fuller longer after breakfast, which can help you manage hunger at your next meal,” adds Goodson.
Eat This: Homemade oatmeal pancakes
Not That!: Standard pancakes with maple syrup
Benefits of this swap: You’ll get more fiber and fewer refined sugars, which will keep you full and more satiated longer.
Similarly to waffles, pancakes with maple syrup are nothing but sugar-loaded carbs. To still enjoy pancakes but with added fiber, one of our dietitians suggests making some oatmeal pancakes.