6 Breakfast Food Swap Ideas To Stay Full and Lose Weight, Say Dietitians
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.
Opt for whole grains instead of refined white grains
Eat This: Whole grain toast
Not That!: White bread toast or bagel
Benefits of this swap: You'll get more fiber and less refined carbohydrates.
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."
Use Greek yogurt and fruit as toppings
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.
Make oatmeal pancakes
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.
"Pancakes are a popular breakfast staple, but they are commonly made with refined carbohydrates and can have sugar-heavy ingredients added as toppings, so switching the inflammatory refined flour for oats is one easy switch to make your breakfast more weight-loss friendly," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. "This is because the fiber in these pancakes will help keep you full for longer and prevent overeating between meals or nutrient rich snacks."
You can try our recipe for oatmeal pancakes with apple cinnamon. Also, simplify the process, Best says all you have to do is "Simply grind your oats, which can be done in bulk ahead of time, then add egg and milk to the consistency of your liking."
Ditch the regular muffins for eggs
Eat This: Egg muffins made with eggs, vegetables, and cheese
Not That!: Standard muffins made with refined flour and a lot of added sugar
Benefits of this swap: You get much more high-quality protein and fiber.
Muffins can be a delicious, quick, and easy breakfast to take with you on the go. However, a standard muffin is usually nothing more than refined flour and sugar, so Goodson suggests swapping this out for something else.
"Many breakfast muffins are made with flour and sugar and are high in calories, so a better option is to choose an egg muffin," says Goodson. "Made with eggs, vegetables, and your favorite cheese, you make these like muffins, but the benefit is having high-quality protein from the eggs, plus fiber from the veggies. This combination can help you feel full longer," Goodson adds, which can help you take in fewer calories after breakfast. Another added benefit from the eggs Goodson notes is that they can "help you get added nutrients like choline for brain health, and lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health."
If you're normally in a rush in the morning, you can make one batch at the beginning of the week, and keep the rest in the refrigerator for a few days. All you have to do is pop one in the microwave before you leave.
Try an alternative creamer for your coffee
Eat This: Collagen powder in your coffee
Not That!: Sugary coffee creamers
Benefits of this swap: You'll consume less added sugar and more collagen and protein.
"Most coffee creamers are nothing more than added sugar and saturated fat, so skip the creamer and add collagen to your morning cup of coffee," suggests Goodson. "Collagen provides amino acids that help with joint and skin health, and these amino acids are the building blocks to protein, which can help you stay fuller longer." If you're looking for a specific type of collagen to try, Goodson adds that "Many brands like Vital Proteins offer flavored collagen like chocolate and matcha, as well as actual collagen coffee creamer."
Use fruit or nuts as an oatmeal topping
Eat This: Oatmeal with berries, apples, or nuts
Not That!: Oatmeal topped with added sugar
Benefits of this swap: Your breakfast will have less added sugar and more fiber and protein to keep you going the rest of the morning.
Oatmeal is a deliciously healthy breakfast, but its nutritional value can easily be squandered if you top it off with tons of sugar, honey, or syrup.
"If you like your oats on the sweeter side, lean on the natural sweetness of berries instead of added sugar," says Manaker. "The berries have fiber, which can help promote satiety, and you will get a boost of antioxidants thanks to the addition too."
Goodson also suggests topping your oatmeal with snack items like apples or nuts. "Instead of adding sugar to your oatmeal, top it with nuts for healthy fat and protein, and chopped apples for added fiber. The protein, fat, and fiber trio will keep you feeling satisfied throughout the morning," she says.