You might have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If we break this word breakfast, we get break + fast, which means breaking your 8-10 hour fast (before and during sleep) and taking a nutritious meal which will be a powerhouse for your entire day.

Now let's examine what we should look for in a good breakfast:

  • A meal that will boost your metabolism so your body works properly.
  • Your first meal of the day should include foods that provide both simple carbohydrates that are quickly and easily digested to provide you with energy as well as complex carbohydrates that will provide you with energy in the longer term.
  • You should also remember to include proteins and fats. The more varied the food products you have for breakfast, the lower the risk of potential nutrient deficiencies (such as mineral deficiencies, vitamin deficiencies and protein deficiency, etc.) in your body.

Before we get into how you can start taking a balanced diet from your very first meal of the day, let's do a quick recap of why we should eat breakfast:

  • It helps you control your weight
  • It helps your brain to function properly
  • It helps your body to reduce the risk of illness (read more: how to increase immunity)
  • It makes you energetic throughout the day
  • It keeps you full for longer, so you can avoid unhealthy munching
  • It reduces the risk of low blood sugar
  • It has an impact on your activeness, alertness, and concentration throughout the day

Now, on to the main goal of this article: to share what to eat and what not to eat for breakfast.

  1. What to eat for breakfast
  2. What not to eat for breakfast
  3. Things to remember when you are planning your breakfast
  4. Good breakfast options
Doctors for Best breakfast foods

It's a good idea to include proteins, complex carbohydrates and fats in your breakfast. Here are some excellent choices that are easily available, nutritious and they won't burn a hole in your pocket:

Eggs for breakfast

Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein (egg white and yolk both). Eggs have a good amount of other nutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium, etc.

There is a research study that shows that during the prelunch period, participants had greater feelings of satiety after an egg breakfast, and consumed fewer calories over the remainder of the day.

This report also says: “The potential role of a routine egg breakfast in producing a sustained caloric deficit and consequent weight loss, should be determined.”

There are several studies that show that taking an egg for breakfast can reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and high blood sugar. Having said that, if you have diabetes, you should talk to your doctor about how often you can eat eggs and whether you should eat only egg whites or egg yolks are okay for you. (Read more: What to eat what not to eat in diabetes)

Unless you are allergic to them, eggs can be a great companion for your breakfast. You can have them whichever way you like, such as half-boiled, hard-boiled, poached, scrambled, or sunny-side up. It’s totally up to you. (Read more: Food allergies)

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Oats for breakfast

Oats are a good source of energy, complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidant plant compounds. They take 13-15 minutes to cook. For this reason, most people prefer instant oats which take 3-5 minutes to cook—but instant oats are a highly processed variety of oats. While they take the shortest time to cook, the texture may be mushy.

To add oats to your regular diet, try to take rolled, crushed, or steel-cut oats. You can add oats as:

  • An oats smoothie bowl
  • Oats and milk porridge
  • Oats Pongal
  • Oats upma

In addition to keeping you feeling full for longer, oats also contain trace minerals like manganese and selenium.

Whole wheat porridge for breakfast

This is one of the oldest and healthiest breakfasts you can make at home, to avoid harmful chemicals and preservatives. Whole wheat porridge—also known as daliya or bulgur wheat—gives a good amount of energy from complex carbohydrates and fibre which is really good for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and gut-related complication such as constipation and indigestion. With this porridge, you have the choice to make it as a sweet preparation or a salted upma.

Milk, curd and other dairy products for breakfast

Taking milk, curd, or paneer in your breakfast can help you to start your day with multiple nutrients such as protein and vitamin B12, which makes you feel full for a long period of time and reduces the deficiencies of essential nutrients. You can have milk in your porridge, or you can have it as a milkshake. Curd can be added as a side dish with your chilla (a kind of pancake made with soaked and blended lentils) or paratha. Paneer can be added as paneer paratha, stuffed chilla, paneer sandwiches, etc.

Nuts and seeds for breakfast

There's a wide variety of nuts and seed available in the market. Not only do they contain healthy amounts of the vitamins, minerals, good fats and fibre we need, they also taste great. You can try and add a few of these daily:

You can also grab a handful and eat them on-the-go on days when you are running late or when you feel you don't have time to sit down for breakfast. You can also make a trail mix with all the nuts and seeds you love and keep it handy for a bit of healthy snacking.

Fruits for breakfast

Always add fruits to your breakfast. Colourful fruits provide us with different types of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants which prepare our body to fight against different types of infections. Fruits are also very filling due to their high fibre and water content.

Pair the fruit with eggs, paneer, or curd for a well-balanced breakfast that will sustain you for hours. Try to take whole and fresh fruits instead of fruit juices and try to take different fruits every day to fulfil all your nutrient needs. You can have apples, bananas, oranges, papayas, melons or berries in your breakfast. You can have these fruits as a side dish with your morning meal as a shake, smoothie, or fruit salad.

Unfortunately, many of us are forced to take short cuts when it comes to breakfast. To save time, we favour instant meals to things that take more than 10-15 minutes to cook. We pick the things we can grab and eat quickly or eat on-the-go, to breakfast foods that require proper planning, thoughtful purchases and painstaking preparation.

While this is okay once in a while (we have our pressure to get to school/office/our chores), it is important to build a healthy routine around breakfast. If necessary, you could do some of the prep the previous night—for example, set aside all the fruit you want in your fruit salad and soak the chia seeds the night before so you just have to assemble the salad in the morning. Another example, say you assemble all the fruit but there's an unscheduled morning meeting, what do you do now? You could blitz the fruit with some yoghurt, add the chia seed, put the smoothie in a sipper or travel mug and have it on-the-go!

It's also important to kick some other bad habits: If you light a cigarette first thing in the morning, or before breakfast, remember that smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Try to stop smoking. Also, if you drink more than one cup of coffee before your workday even begins, try and limit that. Too much coffee can cause dehydration and make it harder for you to focus (rather than helping you concentrate)!

Avoid breakfast cereals and other packaged foods

Packaged cereals contain a lot of sugar and preservatives. Eating these can cause a spike—and then an inevitable crash—in blood sugar levels.

Additionally, the feeling of satiety after eating breakfast cereals lasts for a shorter time than if you eat something with much more proteins and healthy fats.

And as we all know, hunger pangs before lunchtime could lead to unhealthy snacking.

Avoid fruit juice for breakfast

Fruits contain fibre as well as essential nutrients. Fibre helps to make you feel full. When you juice the fruits, you remove all the fibre. That is why you feel hungry sooner after drinking juice for breakfast compared with eating the same volume of fruits.

Packaged juices—even several cold-pressed ones—may contain preservatives and added sugar or sugar alternatives. You should ideally pick fruits over these.

Avoid bread butter breakfast

Given a choice between whole wheat bread or multigrain bread, you should always pick whole wheat bread as it tends to be healthier.

Having said that, whether you're eating brown bread or white bread or multigrain, they could all contain an unhealthy amount of refined flour.

Add to that the butter, and you have simple carbs, saturated fats and negligible amounts of proteins or good fats or essential nutrients.

Consider butter toast a rare treat (because food should also give joy), or replace butter with avocado and a side of salad vegetables for healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Avoid instant oats for breakfast

As mentioned above, instant oats cook faster but they can have a mushy texture and fewer nutrients than steel-cut oats. In fact, it is a good idea to see the ingredient list of any foods that have the word "instant" on the packaging to know if they are healthy or not.

Avoid fried food for breakfast

This seems like an obvious thing to say, but samosa, kachoris, bread-pakora, poori-aloo, bhaturey-choley, even fried parathas should be seen as a rare treat rather than a regular affair at breakfast. After all, we know that fried and spicy foods can cause acidity and other digestion issues. Some of these foods also contain empty calories—calories without much nutritive value—that can cause weight gain.

Of course, a little bit of oil is necessary to make healthier foods like omelettes and chillas too. But remember that oil alone is not the problem—which oil you use, how much, how you use it and for which core ingredients also matters.

If you plan your meal in advance and make a weekly menu, you are more likely to have wholesome nutritious meals without fail. Here are some things to remember while drawing up your plan:

  • Try to make a tasty and colourful meal so you can enjoy your breakfast every day
  • The combination of carbohydrate, proteins, fibre, and vitamins and minerals is mandatory for breakfast, so whenever you are planning your meal, please make sure you cover all these nutrients.
  • Antioxidants are essential for the body to fight different types of diseases. You can get these from fruits and vegetable (especially the colourful ones that are red, yellow, orange or purple)
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Some of the best food options for breakfast are also the ones we've grown up eating:

  • Idli and sambhar
  • Ragi dosa and sambhar
  • Paneer sandwich 
  • Hung curd vegetable sandwich (use a muslin cloth to drain the whey from curd and use this 'hung' curd like you would use cheese spread)
  • Besan paneer chilla 
  • Stuffed roti with curd 
  • Palak chapati with kaala chana curry 
  • Ragi putta with chhole 
  • Methi thepla with curd 
  • Vegetable upma and papaya smoothie
  • Vegetable sprouts poha with salted lassi
  • Sweet daliya 
  • Vegetable omellete with whole wheat bread or multigrain toast 
  • Oats and banana pancakes
Dr. Dhanamjaya D

Dr. Dhanamjaya D

15 Years of Experience

Dt. Surbhi Upadhyay

Dt. Surbhi Upadhyay

3 Years of Experience

Dt. Manjari Purwar

Dt. Manjari Purwar

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