The Best Breakfast To Start The Day With, Depending On Your Health Goals

It can be challenging to stick with health goals long term, but every morning presents a new opportunity to do it. When you start the day with a breakfast you know is nourishing your body and working toward your overall goal, it’s easier to maintain a healthy mindset the rest of the day. 

It would be wonderful if there was one definitive “healthiest breakfast”for everyone, but the reality is that there is no one perfect breakfast. For example, someone who is at high risk for cardiovascular disease may eat differently from someone whose primary goal is hormone balance. Similarly, someone who is trying to build muscle may eat differently than someone who is working with their doctor to lose weight in a healthy way.

Curious as to what type of breakfast aligns with your specific health goals? Keep reading to get the facts straight from registered dietitians. 

The Best Breakfasts For Supporting Mental Health

Scientific research has shown a strong connection between diet and mental health. If your primary goal is to support your mental health — including managing depression or anxiety — Lon Ben-Ashera registered dietitian, said a breakfast that includes omega-3 fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, protein and fermented foods can help. 

Omega-3 fats are well known to support brain health, [including] reducing anxiety and depression symptoms,” Ben-Asher said. “Complex carbohydrates help regulate blood sugar control while providing essential fuel to the body and increasing serotonin levels, which can improve mood.”

He added that fermented foods support the gut, which is linked to better mental health. (The mind-gut connection is strong!)  

Jason Leveea registered dietitian, told HuffPost that one underrated type of food that supports mental health is fruit. He explained that fruit is high in antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation, including in the brain. This benefits overall brain health, including mental health.  

With all this in mind, what does a mental health-supporting breakfast look like? Ben-Asher said a tofu scramble with veggies and a side of Greek yogurt parfait with chia seeds and berries is one example. Alex Oskiana registered dietitian, offered another great option: overnight oats made with rolled oats, chia seeds, protein powder and the liquid of your choice, all topped with bananas.

The Best Breakfasts For Hormone Balance

If you are a woman who is in menopause, experiences intense premenstrual syndrome, or haspolycystic ovary syndrome or endometriosis, one of your primary health goals may be to support your hormones through what you eat.

“Supporting blood sugar regulation is a great way to begin balancing hormonal health,” Oskian told HuffPost.

She explained that this is because insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar, also plays a part in regulating sex hormones like estrogen. 

“When you are looking for a breakfast that supports balanced blood sugar, you will want to enjoy a meal that contains protein as well as fiber that isn’t too high in sugar. Both nutrients — fiber and protein — are very helpful for blood sugar balancing, and starting your day with a lower-sugar meal will prevent the dreaded blood sugar crash shortly after breakfast,” Oskian said.

She noted that examples of this include an egg scramble with whatever veggies you have on hand or chia seed pudding made with coconut milk, protein powder and chia seeds, all mixed together overnight and topped with berries in the morning.

Levee added to this advice, saying that a breakfast with protein, fat and carbs helps balance blood sugar, which in turn supports hormone balance. If smoothies are your go-to breakfast, he suggested incorporating nut butter, chia seeds or flax seeds for their balance of protein, fat and carbs.

The Best Breakfasts For Healthy Weight Loss

If you are working with a doctor to lose weight in a healthy way, all three registered dietitians are in agreement that skipping breakfast completely is not the way to go. Instead, they all said what’s most important is to prioritize protein at breakfast, which will help you stay full until lunchtime. 

“We all know that many diets fail because we simply get too hungry, and cravings can get the best of us. Starting your day off with a protein-packed breakfast will ensure you are starting your day off with a full stomach,” Oskian said.

“[The key] is to stay full as long as possible, no matter your age or gender, while on a weight loss diet. Aiming to fill up on foods that provide fiber as well as many micronutrients will help increase fullness while also providing many nutrients per calorie,” she added.

If you do want a pastry for breakfast, Oskian said that’s fine — just pair a protein-rich food with it.

Greek yogurt is a high-protein breakfast option.
Greek yogurt is a high-protein breakfast option. SimpleImages via Getty Images

Some high-protein breakfasts the dietitians recommended for weight loss include an egg white omelet (egg whites increase protein without fat, Oskian said) with low-fat cheese or whole grain toast with avocado paired with Greek yogurt, oat-based granola and fruit.

The Best Breakfasts For Gaining Muscle

Levee shared that prioritizing protein at breakfast isn’t just important for weight loss; it’s also important for gaining muscle.

“It’s really hard to eat a sufficient amount of protein for gaining muscle if your breakfast is not a protein-packed meal,” he said.

In terms of how much protein to get, Levee told HuffPost that this depends on an individual’s body size and activity level, which he said are more important factors than gender or age. The bigger your body size or the more active you are, you’re going to need more protein.

“The best component in any diet to help build muscle is protein because protein provides the body with the building blocks that result in muscle. So when someone is looking to gain muscle, prioritizing protein at all meals will be one of the most important things to do, along with regular strength training,” Oskian said, adding to Levee’s advice.

Oskian recommended getting one-third of your overall protein needs at breakfast to knock out a good chunk of your protein goal early in the day.

The experts said that examples of a high-protein breakfast include a protein shake made with protein powder, Greek yogurt, leafy greens and the liquid of your choice, a cup and a half of unflavored Greek yogurt topped with nuts and fruit or oatmeal topped with nuts and fruit.

The Best Breakfasts For Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the if you are at high riskfor it (this includes people that have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity), it’s important to care for your heart through what you eat — including breakfast.

“For optimal heart health, breakfast should include nutrient-dense foods that support cardiovascular function, manage cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation,” Ben-Asher said.

He explained that this includes foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, and he added that it’s important to minimize foods high in saturated fats and sodium. (That means no bacon or sausage.) 

Examples of what this looks like include lox or avocado on whole grain toast, oatmeal paired with Greek yogurt or egg whites and spinach. 

The Best Breakfasts For Gut Health

Want to start the day by showing your gut some love? Levee and Ben-Asher both shared that prioritizing fiber and probiotic foods is key. Levee said it’s important to incorporate both soluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool so you have well-formed poops, and insoluble fiber, which prevents constipation by speeding up the digestive process. 

Examples of soluble fiber breakfast foods include oats, fruit, nuts and seeds, and examples of insoluble fiber include whole grain bread and vegetables. To start the day with gut-healthy probiotics, Ben-Asher recommended incorporating kefir or yogurt into your breakfast.

Some examples of a gut-healthy breakfast that includes fiber and probiotics include a smoothie made with kefir, greens, bananas, chia seeds and blueberries, or overnight oats soaked in unsweetened soymilk topped with chia seeds, mixed fruit, cinnamon, Greek yogurt and nuts.

Levee added that staying well-hydrated is also important for gut health, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water at breakfast too.

“This keeps stools soft and passable,” he said.

As you can see, there are a lot of commonalities when it comes to what constitutes a healthy breakfast. In general, aim to prioritize nutrient-dense foods while minimizing nutrient-poor ones. Also, be sure to find breakfasts you actually like the taste of that help you meet your goals, because having a delicious meal is important, too!