The best way to set your day up — and give yourself the energy to power through it — is to have a healthy breakfast. “Breakfast is like putting gas in your car before you go on a long trip,” says Abby Langer, RD. And in an ideal world, you’d have enough time to whip up a gourmet meal every day. But let’s be real: Mornings can be the most hectic part of your day. At times, it can definitely seem fast food is the only food around.
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However, “a lot of fast food is highly processed, low in fiber, high in fat and ultimately makes you want to go back to sleep rather than face the day,” warns Langer. The good news: There are some great a.m. choices out there that won’t put you in a burrito coma before noon. Here, the best picks plus a few extra tweaks that will help make your to-go meal guilt-free.
5 Healthy Fast Food Breakfast Ideas
1. Starbucks Classic Whole-Grain Oatmeal
The skinny: 160 cal, 2.5 g fat, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein, 0 mg sodium, 0 g sugar
Oatmeal is a sure thing in the a.m. “Since oatmeal is a whole grain, it has bulky fiber that your system takes longer to digest, filling you up,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, MPH and dietitian at B Nutritious. “[At Starbucks], they also give you the option of adding in mixed nuts,” she notes. And since nuts are loaded with healthy fats, they’ll ward off junky cravings. Instead of sprinkling on brown sugar, try cinnamon for sweetness. “Part of what generally makes fast food breakfast so bad [for you] is added sugar, but [with a few careful swaps] you can avoid it and still add flavor,” says Zeitlin.
2. Jamba Juice Spinach and Cheese Breakfast Wrap
The skinny: 240 cal, 8 g fat, 3 g fiber, 15 g protein, 530 mg sodium, 1 g sugar
When you’re at the smoothie bar, you may automatically think of their signature sips, but here you’ll want to grab something savory instead. “Fruit is great, but [stick to] one to one and a half servings” to avoid sugar overload, says Langer. But this sandwich has everything a good breakfast should: “The tortilla provides carbs, which break down into glucose, your body’s primary source of energy,” she says. And that’s key: Your body draws upon that energy to do everything from crush it on the treadmill to brainstorm at work. Plus, carbs are best paired with protein, which helps build and repair muscle, as well as healthy, monounsaturated fats (hello eggs and Swiss cheese).
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3. McDonalds Egg White Delight McMuffin
The skinny: 250 cal, 9 g fat, 1 g fiber, 15 g protein, 500 mg sodium, 2 g sugar
McD’s makes the cut! What we’re loving with this sandwich is its white cheddar, which is far less processed than the usual American cheese. At the counter, ask if you can nix the Canadian bacon, an unnecessary source of sodium, says Zeitlin. (Bonus? You’ll cut extra cals the, too.) Also, request whole eggs instead of egg whites. “The fat is in the yolk, so that’s a good way to get a lot of flavor and fullness,” says Zeitlin, who suggests adding fruit like an apple, orange, or half-cup of berries for a hit of fiber, too.
4. Au Bon Pain Egg Whites, Cheddar, and Avocado Sandwich on Skinny Wheat Bagel
The skinny: 310 cal, 17 g fat, 9 g fiber, 20 g protein, 600 mg sodium, 2 g sugar
There’s a reason avocado toast is a huge trend right now (and no, not because it’s so Instagram-worthy ). “Avocado is a surprising source of fiber,” says Zeitlin, crucial to a good morning meal. “Fiber helps keep your digestive system moving, lowers cholesterol and can reduce your risk of diabetes,” says Zeitlin. If you’re looking to add more nutrients, ask for whole eggs instead of egg whites. “The yolk’s choline is an essential mineral for cognition,” says Zeitlin. “And we can all use that early in the morning!”
5. Pret a Manger Vegetarian Southwestern Breakfast Hot Wrap
The skinny: 330 cal, 14 g fat, 3 g fiber, 18 g protein, 710 mg sodium, 2 g sugar
This hearty mixture of eggs, refried black bean salsa, red peppers, red onions and cheddar — all rolled up neatly in a tortilla — can keep you going strong until lunch. “The eggs offer protein, and the wrap has carbs for longer-lasting energy,” says Langer. Be mindful of the sodium, though, which is relatively high for one meal. “I would suggest eating less sodium and avoiding the salt shaker for the rest of the day for balance,” advises Langer.