Breakfast Basics: How to Create a Healthy, Balanced Plate

Lean proteins, plenty of fiber, and healthy fats are must-haves.

olive oil fried eggs with yogurt
Photo: Marcus Nilsson

A great day starts with a strong morning routine, which should include a healthy meal. "A balanced breakfast helps fuel the body with energy to kickstart the day, manage blood sugar levels, curb mid-morning cravings, and improve concentration," says Dr. Caroline Cederquist, a physician and the founder of bistroMD. Eating breakfast isn't always a one-size-fits-all experience, though. "While morning exercisers, those managing diabetes, and other populations can benefit from a morning meal, some people claim better mental clarity when skipping breakfast," she adds.

If breakfast is for you, curating a plate specifically for your needs can boost your morning and overall day. Here, a few expert-approved foods to put on your plate during this meal.

Aim for lean proteins.

Like any other meal, breakfast should spotlight three key food groups: lean proteins, fiber-rich carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Dr. Cederquist suggests aiming for this balance of nutrients by beginning with a protein source, like eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or a protein shake. "As a registered dietitian, I'm looking at which macronutrients are going to support my busy day when creating a healthy breakfast plate, or any plate," notes Carissa Galloway, RDN, a Premier Protein nutrition consultant. Shakes with about 30 grams of protein can be the perfect on-the-go breakfast, as protein in general can give you "satiety for sustained energy throughout the morning," she adds.

Include fiber-rich carbs.

"Next, add a fiber-rich carbohydrate source or two. Load up eggs with bell peppers, spinach, and other colorful vegetables," Dr. Cederquist shares. "Smoothies blended with a protein base (like milk and protein powder), fresh or frozen fruit, and vegetables (such as spinach and kale) also sneak in nutrients without compromising flavor." Galloway explains that carbohydrates provide the energy to fuel you each and every day, so she points her clients to produce, such as apples, pears, raspberries, and bananas; these offer an added boost of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Eat healthy fats.

Dr. Cederquist recommends pairing a breakfast with fat, like egg yolk or peanut butter, which will keep you feeling full. Do keep in mind, however, that balance is always the goal when piecing together your breakfast plate. "If time allows, have fun experimenting with food combinations and flavors and sitting down to fully enjoy and appreciate the meal," she says. "But if crunched for time, even grabbing a banana and Greek yogurt or apple and peanut butter can be a healthy breakfast solution."

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