For the person on-the-go, grabbing a quick breakfast from your local Starbucks is a necessary evil. However, it does not have to be a bad thing, as there are healthy options in many of our favorite fast food restaurants.
In the 2019 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) 23 per cent of American consumers said they actively sought out healthy food, most often to receive the benefits of weight loss, energy, digestive health, and heart health.
This, and the growing focus on plant-based diets, has prompted restaurants up their game when it comes to their breakfast offerings.
Dietician Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, MS RD, said some brands like McDonald’s can offer brilliant breakfast options for those in a pinch, and that trying to get meals rather than just quick bites is the key to feeling fuller for longer.
She told Newsweek: “Although you can make most menu items healthy my personal top choice is actually a breakfast meal. I fully believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, providing you with the energy to tackle your day and kickstarting your metabolism.”
From oatmeal to egg white muffins, we run through some of the healthiest breakfast options out there and speaks to experts about what you should look out for.
Egg White Grill – Chick-fil-A
Egg whites are one of the top options for a healthier breakfast, and Chick-fil-A has one as part of their menu. The Egg White Grill includes egg white with citrusy grilled chicken and a slice of cheese, in an English muffin. It comes in at 290 calories with 26 grams of protein.
Fruit and Maple Oatmeal – McDonald’s
This oatmeal option is packed with fruit, including apple, cranberry and raisin, along with light cream to make the breakfast staple extra unctuous. While there isn’t much in the way of protein, the fibrous oats are also packed with iron, with it coming in at 320 calories.
This was Melendez-Klinger’s top pick, with the oats not only being iron-filled, but also making you feel fuller for longer.
She said: “McDonald’s offers plenty of healthy options on their menu, but what I love about McDonald’s is the flexibility they offer on their menu. You can add or delete anything from their menu items, which can be a great way for both adults and kids to get a delicious (with favorite items) complete, nutrient-dense meal with favorites that can include either whole grains or enriched refined grains, lean protein, and vegetables…
“The key is to always focus on moderation/portion sizes and what’s between the bread, choosing your fillings or toppings wisely… my choice is the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal with low fat milk and a side of apple slices.
“At just 320 calories, and 30 less if you skip the sugar, you get 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of heart-healthy fiber.”
Egg White & Roasted Red Pepper Sous Vide Egg Bites – Starbucks
More egg white fun, this also comes without the carbs and is even cooked quite differently to other restaurants. Sous vide means the eggs have been vacuum packed and cooked in water. As such, no oil is involved. It includes Monterey Jack cheese, spinach and fire-roasted red peppers and comes in at 170 calories, with 12 grams of protein.
Egg White Bowl – Dunkin’ Donuts
If you want the delicious egg whites and veggies but without the added carbs, Dunkin’ has you covered. Their egg white bowl includes spinach, roast potatoes, cheddar cheese and caramelized onions, bringing you 14 grams of protein in 250 calories.
Sausage, Egg & Cheese Burrito – Wendy’s
Wendy’s has croissants, biscuits and loads of other items on their menu, but one of the more healthy options is the sausage, egg and cheese burrito, which has 340 calories. It is also packed with 15 grams of protein, but this is certainly not one for those following a vegan diet.
Vanilla Blue Sky Bowl – Jamba Juice
Jamba Juice has a number of healthy offerings on their menu, but it is important to avoid hidden sugars. The vanilla blue sky bowl is full of allergen-free items like coconut milk, as well as bananas and pineapples for natural sugars. This is high in fibre and comes in at 330 calories.
Cheesy Toasted Breakfast Burrito – Taco Bell
Once again, eggs are the focus of a healthy breakfast, though this one does have a fairly high fat content compared to some other picks.
But if Taco Bell is your closest stop on the way to work, it has 340 grams and 11 grams of protein.
Avocado, Egg White and Spinach Sandwich – Panera Bread
Panera Bread is another fast food joint with some healthier options, including pure egg souffles. However, if you want something slightly more substantial, the avocado, egg white and spinach sandwich has a high level of fibre and good fats, as well as protein. It has 350 calories.
Veggie Delite Wrap – Subway
So this may not technically be on the breakfast menu, but this is one of the healthiest options at Subway. It is packed with veggies, including lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, green peppers, cucumbers and onions, which does mean it is not that high in protein. However, for a Vitamin A and C boost, this is where it is at, coming in at 330 calories.
**Ingredients and nutritional information correct at the time of writing**