8 Healthiest Fast-Food Breakfasts, According to Dietitians
"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.
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. Read on for their top 8 picks and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Starbucks' Hearty Blueberry Oatmeal
"This is a solid fast food breakfast pick. It's based on whole grain oats, which provide health-protective soluble fiber," says Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, plant-forward culinary nutritionist, and author of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook. "It's got blueberries, which are loaded with anthocyanins, the plant pigment that's associated with reducing risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more. And you'll also find some dried figs, dried cranberries, pepitas, and almonds."
For Newgent, the customizable nature of this breakfast is also a huge plus. "You can customize the oatmeal to boost nutrient richness, like by adding more blueberries and a nut medley," she adds.
Starbucks' Spinach, Feta & Egg White Wrap
"It's not easy to find a fast-food breakfast that includes vegetables! This wrap has spinach, which is a good source of iron, egg whites, which provide lean, low-fat protein, tomatoes, and a little bit of feta, all rolled up into a whole-wheat wrap," notes Talia Hauser, RD, a registered dietitian in The Colony, Texas. "This meal has a really good balance of fat from the cheese, fiber from the vegetables and wrap, and protein from the egg whites. It's a total win! Just don't mess it all up by getting a high-calorie, high-sugar drink! Stick to a basic coffee or latte made with skim milk or almond milk." For help, check out these 13 Best Low-Calorie Starbucks Drinks.
McDonald's Fruit and Maple Oatmeal
"This breakfast contains whole-grain oats and fresh fruit—red and green apples, cranberries, and raisins," notes Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, registered dietitian and the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. "This meal provides fiber and is relatively low in calories."
Dunkin's Veggie Egg White Omelet
"This twist on a traditional breakfast will satisfy your taste and your hunger. It is made using whole grains, which adds five grams of fiber to this breakfast sandwich to keep you full for longer," says Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements. "At just 290 calories, you won't feel weighed down by a heavy or greasy breakfast, but the nutrients provided in the Veggie Egg White Omelette will actually fuel your brain and help prevent mental fatigue. With 17 grams of protein, you'll be less likely to overeat or crave junk throughout the morning and should feel fully satisfied until lunch."
Starbucks' Turkey Bacon, Cheddar & Egg White Sandwich
"Packed with 17 grams of protein with only 230 calories? This is better and more satisfying than most protein bars found on the market," says Registered dietitian Silvia Carli, RD, a registered dietitian at 1AND1 LIFE. "This tasty option remains low in fat and calories and high in protein because of the reduced-fat cheese and the egg whites."
Panera Bread's Greek Yogurt With Mixed Berries Parfait
"Tasty, sweet, rich in antioxidants from berries and protein, and probiotics from the Greek yogurt form a filling breakfast," Carli shares. "This parfait also contains sunflower and pumpkin seeds for copper and magnesium, minerals that are involved in many reactions in the body."
Panera Bread's Chipotle Chicken, Scrambled Egg & Avocado Wrap
As Young puts it: "This wrap is high in protein and contains vegetables and fiber, which most fast-food breakfasts don't have."
Starbucks' Lentils & Vegetable Protein Bowl with Brown Rice
"If you're looking for a hearty, protein-rich breakfast on the go, the Starbucks Lentil & Vegetable protein bowl is one of my top recommendations," says Caitlin Self, MS, LDN. It's full of fiber (21 grams!), and plant-based protein (23 grams!), and most of the ingredients are unprocessed and even allergy-friendly.
Self adds: "When it comes to breakfast, it's easy for us to reach for things that are sugary and full of simple carbohydrates (hi, blueberry muffin) that cause us to crash an hour later, but this protein bowl provides an excellent balance of macronutrients to nourish you all morning long!" For more ways to get protein in your fast food orders, don't miss The 16 Best High-Protein Fast Food Meals.
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