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April 21, 2020

Breaking the Fast

By Avance Care Registered Dietitian Grace Burton, MS, RD, LDN


You’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you’re wondering if there’s really any truth to that, the answer is yes! Eating breakfast helps to provide the energy needed to power through your morning, which is especially important for being able to concentrate at work or school. A nutritious breakfast can also help you reach your daily nutrient recommendations. Not to mention, it can prevent munching on less nutrient dense snacks due to being hungry. The key is to choose a breakfast that is both satisfying and balanced. Try to limit foods high in sugar and/or refined carbohydrates, such as biscuits, sugary cereals, or donuts which can contribute to blood sugar spikes and crashes. Opt for a breakfast meal higher in fiber, protein, and healthy fats to increase satiety and promote stable energy levels. Below is a list of balanced breakfast ideas:


Many cereals tend to be high in sugar but there are some more nutrient dense options. Look for whole grain options with less than 10 grams of sugar and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Suggested cereal brands:

  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares
  • Kashi GO Chocolate Crunch
  • Cascadian Farms Cinnamon Apple, No Added Sugar
  • Cheerios
  • Total

Pair with low-fat cow’s milk, unsweetened soy milk, or low-fat yogurt plus a serving of fruit to balance out the meal. If you use almond or coconut milk, which are both low in protein, consider adding a boiled egg on the side to increase protein and keep you full.


Oatmeal is a high fiber, whole grain breakfast option that is quite versatile. It can be sweet, savory, or made in the form of baked oatmeal cups or overnight oats.

  • If you prefer to buy the packaged oatmeal to save time, choose the lower sugar options.
    • Quaker Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal Packets
  • You can also buy the plain instant oatmeal packets and add flavor yourself.
    • Protein: nuts or nut butter
    • Top off with fruit of choice
    • Optional: cinnamon, vanilla extract, and/or unsweetened cocoa powder can be added to enhance the flavor
  • Baked oatmeal cups:
    • Make ahead of time and freeze or keep in the fridge to heat at breakfast time
  • Overnight oats: there are a wide variety of flavor options, but here’s a basic recipe to follow and adjust with different fruits, nut butters, seeds, yogurt or milk bases…
    • Overnight oats are prepared the night before, preventing the need for cooking in the morning. They are typically consumed cold. A very easy, time saving breakfast for busy mornings!

Yogurt Parfait

Make your own and switch up the flavors – pick one from each column and call it a meal!

Low-fat YogurtWhole GrainFruitHealthy Fat
  • Plain or Flavored varieties with <12g sugar
  • Chobani: “hint of” flavors
  • Oikos Triple Zero
  • Siggi’s
  • Dannon Greek Light & Fit
  • Cereal (see suggestions above)
  • Granola
  • Fruit of choice
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Nuts


Breakfast Sandwich/Wrap

Whole Grain        +Protein              +Healthy Fat            +Fruit/Vegetable
  • Bagel Thin
  • English Muffin
  • Sandwich Thin
  • Tortilla/Wrap
  • Bread
  • Egg
  • Slice of reduced fat cheese
  • Nut Butter
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Avocado
  • Olive or Canola Oil (used to cook the egg)
  • Also found in nut butters
  • Top with spinach or tomato
  • Saute egg with peppers/onions
  • Add side of fruit



Protein             +1-2 Fruit Servings      +Healthy Fat            +Vegetable
  • Protein Powder
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Low-fat milk
  • Unsweetened soy milk
  • Nut butter
  • ½ banana
  • ¾ cup berries
  • ½ mango
  • 1 medium peach
  • 1 small apple
  • 12 fresh or ½ cup canned or frozen cherries
  • ¾ cup pineapple
  • Avocado
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Nuts
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots


Protein Bars

For a very convenient, on the go breakfast, go for a protein bar with a piece of fruit. Look for brands with about 200 calories or less, no more than 10 grams of sugar, and at least 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

  • Nature Valley Protein Bars
  • Kind Breakfast Protein Bars
  • Pure Protein Bars

Many of these options are fast and convenient, which can eliminate the temptation to run through the drive thru or wandering to the vending machine. Making breakfast a priority sets you up to make healthier choices throughout the day. For more help with healthy eating, call to schedule an appointment with an Avance Care Registered Dietitian by calling (919) 237-1337, option 4.


Grace is a registered dietitian working at the Wake Forest and Northeast Raleigh locations. She enjoys running, and especially likes doing races in other cities because it gives her an excuse to visit new places. She also loves trying new restaurants, spending time with family and friends, and cheering on the NC State Wolfpack at football and basketball games.

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