For many people, breakfast is an indispensable meal. However, mornings are often extremely hectic and it can be difficult to regularly prepare and sit down to eat a homemade breakfast.
Fortunately, there are more “healthy” fast food breakfast options than ever, and these are viable alternatives when you are in a bind. Of course, it is always ideal to prepare your own meals so that you not only know exactly what is in them, but also because you can tailor them to your specific needs.
However, life often gets in the way of what is ideal, and the following options from some of the most popular chains and franchises are fast, convenient and much better choices than a donut or a bagel with cream cheese.
1. Starbucks Spinach & Feta Wrap
This wrap contains only 290 calories and provides 6 grams of fiber and 19 grams of protein. As a bonus, the wrap is whole wheat and the egg white it contains is from a cage free egg. Be careful if you order a coffee with your sandwich, though, as many Starbucks choices are calorie landmines.
Note: Stay away from the “Protein Bistro Box. ”Although the name sounds healthy, it will wallop you with 19 grams of fat and 37 grams of carbohydrate while providing only 13 grams of protein.
2. Dunkin Donuts Ham Egg & Cheese English Muffin
The ham, egg and cheese English muffin contains 280 calories, 17 grams of protein, and 7 grams of fiber. You can boost the protein by adding egg whites without significantly increasing the sandwich’s calories. For comparison, a single glazed donut has 260 calories, and a bacon, egg and cheese “Big N’ Toasted packs well over 500 calories and 28 grams of fat.
Note: Dunkin Donuts also offers egg white flat bread sandwiches, which are also less than 300 calories. Although I have not tried them, the feedback from my patients and clients is that they just don’t taste as good as my top pick. Wake-up wraps are Dunkin Donuts’ lowest calorie breakfast option, weighing in at 170 calories. They are very small, however, and may leave you hungry 20 minutes later.
3. McDonalds Egg McMuffin
The classic Egg McMuffin (290 calories, 17 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat and 31 grams of carbohydrates) is a very good option at McDonalds, so long as you do not eat it with hash browns and juice. The new Egg White Delight McMuffin contains 250 calories, 18 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat and 30 grams of carbohydrates, of which 3 grams are sugar and 4 are fiber. Since essentially all of an egg’s nutrients and ½ the protein are in the yolk, it is reasonable to choose the whole egg over the egg white.
4. Au Bon Pain Egg White Cheddar & Avocado
While there a number of solid breakfast options at Au Bon Pain, the egg whites, cheddar and avocado on a skinny bagel top my list. Technically, at 310 calories, it doesn’t make the cut off, but I have included it anyway as it is filling, high in protein (20 grams) and healthy fat. To trim the calories, order the egg whites and cheddar breakfast sandwich, which weighs in at only 230 calories and still contains 20 grams of protein.
5. Wawa Ham Egg White & Cheddar
The ham, egg white and cheddar on a multigrain English muffin contains 240 calories, 20 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. This is a solid choice. Contrast that with a bacon, egg and cheese shorti, which has 680 calories and 38 grams of fat!
Fast Food Isn’t Ideal, But Occasionally You Can Make It Work
There are healthy breakfast options out there, even if you are in a rush, traveling, or simply do not like to cook. However, you may notice the amount of food you get for the calories is relatively small compared to many homemade options (i.e. a smoothie made with almond milk, Greek yogurt, berries and a small amount of nuts). Still, if you are in tune with your body, pay attention to hunger and satiety signals and eat slowly, you can eat these foods as part of a healthy, practical lifestyle.