You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy breakfast can mean the difference between having a terrible or an awesome day, and whether you’re taking classes, interning, or holding down a job, you want to have a lot of awesome days.
Your brain and body rely on you to eat foods that keep them awake and alert throughout the day. Unfortunately, the temptation to scarf down a bowl of sugary cereal is strong if you’re running out the door. It’s quick and easy—we get it. But why not make something easy that’s also healthier, more delicious, and more likely to help you succeed?
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Take a smarter approach by choosing one of these 4 breakfasts. Some will take a little prep ahead of time, but it’s worth it for a meal that will power you up and give you lasting focus and energy throughout the day.
1. The breakfast burrito
The tortilla is the perfect vessel for practically anything, which gives you an opportunity to build a delicious breakfast that keeps you fueled and energized for hours. When making the perfect breakfast burrito, it’s all about choosing the right combination of ingredients—obviously this could head in a very unhealthy direction if you go overboard.
A delicious and healthy breakfast burrito could include:
- Scrambled eggs (or egg whites!)
- A whole-wheat tortilla
- A little cheese
- Spinach or mixed greens
- Black beans
- Fruit salsa (such as chopped mangoes or apples)
- Real salsa
- You name it!
The eggs and/or beans provide plenty of protein to help you feel full all morning. The whole-wheat tortilla provides carbohydrates that your body can slowly convert into energy throughout the day. Adding spinach gives you extra iron so you don’t feel tired. The fruit salsa plays an important role by adding vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as well as general deliciousness.
The cheese? It adds some protein. Mostly, though, it just tastes good!
2. Steel-cut oats with fruit
Steel-cut oats take more time to make than instant oatmeal, but they’re packed with more of the nutrition you need to stay sharp. A serving of steel-cut oats has about 170 calories. What’s impressive is that 117 of those calories come from carbohydrates, 28 from protein, and 25 from fat. That combination equals a full belly and energy that will keep you going.
Adding some fruit boosts the taste and nutrition of your bowl of oats. Blueberries, strawberries, and raisins, for example, bring much-needed antioxidants and vitamin C to your morning meal.
A little butter or milk can also level up your oatmeal game since they’re both rich sources of protein.
3. Energy bars made from scratch
Pulling an all-nighter—whether for school or work—is rarely an effective strategy (and usually not a good look the next day). But sometimes the days just get away from you, and a paper or project needs to get done. When that happens, you’ll need an easy breakfast that will jump-start your body and mind.
Yes, you can buy energy bars at the grocery store, but they’re expensive and often full of questionable ingredients. By making them at home, you’ll have a healthy breakfast option on mornings when you don’t have time to eat a full meal.
For protein to keep you full until lunchtime, use hearty grains and nuts as your bar’s base. Peanut butter makes an excellent binder for oat-based bars. Add chia seeds and dried fruits for antioxidants. For a dose of caffeine, include chunks of dark chocolate.
4. A big salad and a bagel
Salad for breakfast might sound a little weird, but it’s a great way to start your day. (And it isn’t unusual in other countries. In Japan, for example, the morning meal often includes vegetables and a small salad.) We’re not talking wilted lettuce and out-of-season tomatoes; we mean a big salad full of fresh ingredients.
Consider mixing together any of these:
- Fresh tomatoes
- Pine nuts or walnuts
- Sliced cucumber
- Any other seasonal veggie!
Each of these foods adds essential nutrition to the salad. Spinach, of course, is full of iron. The eggs and nuts give you protein to keep you feeling full. The carrots, fresh tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers give you an assortment of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
Wondering where the carbohydrates for prolonged energy will come from? Add a whole-grain bagel to solve that problem. You can up your protein intake by spreading a little peanut butter on it.
What you eat at breakfast can have a big impact on your success throughout the day. Make your goals easier to reach by fueling up on a nutritious breakfast every morning. You are what you eat—so eat smart!