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What Makes a Healthy Plant-Based Breakfast + Recipe Ideas

Learn what are the most important nutrients to include in your plant-based breakfast, what to avoid, if sweet or savory breakfast healthier option, and get some healthy and delicious ideas for the first meal of the day.

Written by Jyothi Shenoy, MD, MBA. Updated on September 16, 2022.

A healthy breakfast has several benefits. What you eat for your breakfast plays a vital role in determining your overall health.

Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day because it replenishes the stores of nutrients and energy in our body by breaking the overnight fasting period.

People who fail to make the right choices for breakfast or skip breakfast frequently are likely to not meet their recommended intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

This marks the importance of choosing your breakfast carefully.

Let us have a look at the most important nutrients you must include in your breakfast. We will also learn how to determine the right kind of breakfast for you: Sweet vs. Savory?

Most Important Breakfast Nutrients

Fiber-Rich Carbs

It is a good idea to include carbs in your breakfast. However, you must choose your carbs carefully as not all carbs are the same.

You should aim to get a type of carbohydrate called fibers early in the day to ensure your blood glucose levels remain stable.

Spiking and subsequent falling of your blood sugar levels can lead to hunger pangs within 2 or 3 hours after your breakfast.

Eating fiber-rich foods in the morning can prevent fluctuations in your blood sugar level and reduce the temptation to indulge in snacking before lunchtime.

Fiber is found in plant-based foods, such as fresh fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and legumes. You can also eat cereals and oatmeal for breakfast to start your day with a fiber-rich meal.

Pick Precious Proteins

Without enough protein in your breakfast, you might end up struggling to make it to lunch without any mid-meal snacking.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, eating a protein-rich breakfast can help you feel full and reduce your appetite and calorie intake later during the day.

These findings suggest that a protein-rich breakfast might offer an effective strategy for improving appetite control and preventing obesity.

Some of the best plant-based, high-protein breakfast options include almond smoothies, roasted nuts, and whole grain toast.

Healthy Fats

Fat has been named a culprit in the rising incidence of many diseases across the world including heart attacks, diabetes, and cancer. However, just like carbs, even fats have different forms and the ones you need to consume are healthy fats such as unsaturated fats.

One research published in The Journal of Nutrition has revealed that a breakfast rich in healthy unsaturated fats could reduce the risk of metabolic disorders, including diabetes and obesity.

These fats can also improve your focus and play a role in boosting the cognitive functions of your brain such as memory, attention span, and decision-making skills.

You can increase your intake of unsaturated fat by eating avocado, adding olives to your sandwiches, or topping your smoothies with chia seeds or flaxseeds.

You can also choose olive oil to stir-fry your veggies instead of vegetable oil to get unsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Some other good sources of healthy fats include walnuts and almonds.

Make sure you don’t neglect these nutrients when making your breakfast choices so that you can get going with your day with higher energy, better focus, and stronger health.

Should I Skip Breakfast?

There has been an increasing trend to skip breakfast for various reasons, especially among teenagers and young adults.
Some common excuses for skipping breakfast include:

  • Not having enough time to prepare a breakfast
  • Reducing calorie intake to lose weight
  • Desire to sleep extra few minutes
  • Bored of the same foods

It is common for people to consider skipping breakfast to be an easy way to lower their total calorie intake throughout the day. However, this is not true. The fact is that when you skip breakfast, you set yourself up for a poor eating pattern for the day, as you tend to get hungrier later on.

Skipping breakfast can also be dangerous for you as it can lead to a very low level of blood sugar. Moreover, it can deprive you of the essential nutrients your body needs to be able to function optimally throughout the day.

This is why; it is advisable to never skip your breakfast. Instead, aim to fill your morning platter with the nutrients that will keep you going with high energy all day long.

Sweet vs Savory Breakfast

As far as breakfast is concerned, there are two types of people in this world: the sweet breakfast eaters and the savory breakfast eaters.

Some people prefer a classic savory breakfast of sandwich and oatmeal while some argue that a sweet breakfast with pancakes and whole wheat toast can be a better way to start a day.

So, who wins that battle? Sweet or savory?

Sweet Breakfast

A sweet breakfast can be the perfect way to start your routine if you want your day to be filled with loads of energy needed for strenuous physical activities.

Some examples of a sweet breakfast include fresh-from-the-griddle pancakes, avocado pudding, and a quick bowl of fresh fruits. Eating these foods for breakfast is sure to bring a smile to your face and leave you filled with both joy and energy.

What does the research say about a sweet breakfast?

There is evidence suggesting that eating sweet or dessert for breakfast could be an effective way to stave off hunger for a longer part of your morning hours. A study published in the Endocrine Society has revealed that eating a high-carb breakfast comprising a small piece of chocolate or sweet cookie could help to promote weight loss.

This study has busted the myth that a sweet breakfast could be responsible for weight gain or prevent you from losing those extra pounds.

However, this benefit comes with a few restrictions such as performing adequate physical activities to burn calories and restricting your calorie intake later in the day.

Is sweet breakfast suitable for you?

A sweet breakfast can be suitable for you if:

  • You work out regularly
  • Your daily activities or job involves strenuous physical activities like lifting heavy objects
  • You are an athlete or play sport such as football or basketball regularly
  • Are a school-going child

Savory Breakfast

A savory breakfast is definitely a more hearty way to begin your day. With options such as buttered toast, oatmeal, and sandwiches, a savory breakfast gives you an opportunity to cover a wider range of basic macro-needs in one go.

What does the research say about a savory breakfast?

A savory breakfast is a great way to eat whole grains, vegetables, and beans, and cut back on excess sugar intake. It is specifically beneficial for people who need to watch out for their carbs such as those with diabetes.

Is a savory breakfast suitable for you?

A savory breakfast is suitable for all, especially athletes. The right combination of proteins, healthy fats, and carbs can enable them to practice longer and harder.

It is also suitable for people who work out regularly. A protein-rich savory breakfast can enhance their physical endurance and stamina allowing them to work out without feeling tired.

A savory breakfast can be perfect even for students who need extra energy to maintain their focus and face the day of work. It contains proteins and other nutrients that can improve memory and attention span and promote active participation.

A savory breakfast is, of course, suitable for those who need to control their blood sugar levels and hence, need to limit their sugar intake.

The winner

So, which type of breakfast is beneficial over the other? Both!

If you want to make sure you are getting adequate protein in the morning, it can come in the form of a savory breakfast full of grains and pulses. And if you want your day to be filled with energy, a sweet breakfast can show you the right way.

If you want to avoid a carb-heavy morning, make sure you are eating the healthier form of carbohydrate that is in abundance in fruits rather than eating foods with refined sugars such as cakes and pastries.

As long as you stick to the rule of eating healthy, it doesn’t matter whether you chose a sweet or a savory breakfast.

So, go ahead and enjoy a healthy and nutritious breakfast of your choice with some ideas given below.

Sweet Plant-Based Breakfast Ideas

Fruit

All fruits are high in fiber and relatively low in calories. They also contain a good amount of vitamins. The fiber in fruit can slow down the absorption of sugars in your body, giving you a steady and sustainable source of energy for several hours.

Many fruits including oranges, lychee, and cherries are high in vitamin C, which plays a key role in strengthening immunity and maintaining skin health, primarily by acting as an antioxidant.

Other fruits like bananas, cantaloupe, mango, and papaya contain potassium that can regulate blood pressure.

You can eat these fruits raw or drink fruit juices (without added sugars) for a balanced breakfast that packs a punch of morning energy.

Berries

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries can be the best options to load your breakfast with powerful antioxidants.

These berries can be added to oatmeal, used to prepare smoothies and milkshakes, or simply eaten raw.

Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are linked to reduced inflammation and a lowered risk of heart diseases and cancer. Anthocyanins are also associated with improved memory and stronger protection against age-related degenerative changes in the brain responsible for causing cognitive decline.

Nuts

Nuts like almonds and walnuts of high in proteins, minerals like potassium and magnesium, and healthy monounsaturated fat. Nuts are also a great source of antioxidants.

Moreover, Brazil nuts are considered the best natural sources of selenium. Nut intake is also associated with better brain and heart health.

You can top your oatmeal with a spoonful of chopped nuts or simply eat a handful of them to strengthen your body’s disease-fighting potential.

Savory Plant-Based Breakfast Ideas

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is the classic savory breakfast option.

It is made from steel cut or rolled oats containing a unique type of fiber known as beta-glucan. It is a form of soluble fiber that can reduce your cholesterol levels and even promote a feeling of fullness by slowing down the emptying of the stomach.

Plus, oatmeal is a good source of B vitamins, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, and selenium, all of which are needed for the optimum functioning of your body.

Starting your day with oatmeal will provide your body with several essential vitamins and minerals that will help you stay active all day long.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are highly nutritious and offer a great source of fiber. It is estimated that just 1 ounce or 28 grams of chia seeds contain nearly 10 grams of soluble fiber.

It has the ability to absorb water and increase the volume of food passing through your stomach and intestine. This can not just help you feel fuller but also improve digestion and bowel movement.

Eating chia seeds for breakfast can also reduce your hunger significantly allowing you to lower your calorie intake later in the day. The high soluble fiber content of these seeds would also stabilize your blood sugar levels and improve heart health.

You can add chia seeds to your oatmeal or sprinkle them on your sandwiches.

Whole wheat toast

If you prefer a simple and quick breakfast in the morning, you can try whole wheat toast.

Whole grain toast is rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which take longer to get digested and hence, do not raise blood sugar levels rapidly. You can spread your whole wheat toast with other nutritious and delicious toppings such as avocado, chili flakes, peanut butter, banana, sliced figs, or honey.

Conclusion

Starting your day with a nutritious plant-based breakfast can be a great way to improve your physical and intellectual productivity throughout the day.

Eating healthy plant-based foods high in protein, fiber, unsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals will improve your overall fitness and protect you against a number of diseases.

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