What is a Balanced Breakfast?

toast with avocado and eggs
Egg and bacon inside pastry.

We’ve all been there before. You wake up, chow down a bowl of cereal, and rush out the door only to find your stomach growling an hour later. The likely culprit? An unbalanced breakfast.

Eating in the morning jump-starts our metabolism, resulting in the production of energy. Some foods do this quickly, but briefly, and then leave us starving well before an 8 a.m. meeting has run its course. Others keep us charged, focused and pang-free all morning. Build a balanced breakfast by choosing a food from each of these four categories. You’ll stay energized right up to lunch.

The Foundation: Protein

Ample protein in the morning sets the stage for the day. It controls cravings and keeps you focused. Start with yogurt, eggs, milk, meat or beans.

The Energizer: Carbohydrate

Without complex carbs, you’ll be dragging in no time. Stick to whole grains, vegetables or fruit for antioxidant power and filling fiber.

The Marathoner: Fat

Fat is in it for the long haul, keeping you full for hours. Choose healthy options, such as avocado, nuts, seeds, pesto or olives.

The Garnish: Flavor

Try a sprinkle of coconut on yogurt, a spoonful of salsa on eggs or chocolate chips in pancakes. Pleasure your palate with a sensory boost of flavor to round out your breakfast. Get creative!

Here are a few favorite balanced breakfasts to get you started:

  • Buckwheat banana pancakes (carbohydrate), spiced yogurt (protein), pecans (fat), maple syrup (flavor)
  • Brown rice (carbohydrate), eggs (protein), tomato, avocado and pesto (fat/flavor)
  • Whole-grain cereal and banana (carbohydrate), milk (protein), almonds (fat), currants (flavor)

— Carrie Huseman, MS, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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