Instant Kickstart: 7 Energy-Boosting Breakfasts Under 400 Calories
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Instant Kickstart: 7 Energy-Boosting Breakfasts Under 400 Calories

These no-fuss meals take minutes to make—and will power you all morning long.

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By Taylor Lupo

We know we should be eating breakfast, but finding the time during a busy morning can be tough. It's possible though, and a little bit of prep might be worth the potential benefits of a morning meal. Research has linked a nutritious breakfast to a lower heart disease risk factors and weight loss, by increasing energy levels, reducing hunger and promoting healthy food choices throughout the day.

But the food you choose matters, and a daily unhealthy smorgasbord may not be conducive to your health goals. A healthy breakfast includes a combination of fiber from whole grains, produce, lean protein and some good-for-you fats.

Logging your food and beverage consumption can help keep you on track towards eating the right foods, at the right times. Not to mention, it can help boost weight loss, too. The more consistent you are with tracking, the better your results might be. Regular dietary tracking, at least five times a week, was associated with significant and long-lasting weight loss when compared with inconsistent tracking, according to a 2017 Journal of Diabetes Research study. In booklets, participants logged the types of food they ate as well as portion sizes, and included the amount of fat, calories and carbohydrates. Sure, a pen and paper work to track your meals, but phone applications like Sharecare, available for Android and iOS, put a tracker in the palm of your hand. Simply open the app and record the size and quality of your meal.  

Read on for a seven tracker-worthy breakfast options.

Overnight oats

2 / 8 Overnight oats

A busy morning shouldn't be an excuse to skip breakfast. Overnight oats are a quick and versatile AM option that can be prepped the night before and enjoyed on-the-go. In a jar or airtight container, combine one part oats with two parts liquid of choice—water, nonfat milk and almond milk are all standout options.

There are a number of ways to sweeten the deal. Try adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder or a sprinkle of calorie-free stevia before giving your mixture a stir and placing it in the refrigerator. When you're ready to eat, add a cup of your favorite fruit, like mixed berries, and dig in.

A breakfast made with a half cup of oats, one cup of unsweetened almond milk, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a cup of strawberries contains just under 400 calories, 15 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, which can help lower your heart disease risk, regulate bowel movements and maintain a healthy weight.

Huevos rancheros

3 / 8 Huevos rancheros

No need to book a Mexican vacation or head over to your favorite brunch spot to enjoy this flavorful meal. Making huevos rancheros is easier (and healthier) than you might think. You'll need just a few ingredients to whip up this Latin dish: one tortilla, one whole egg, a teaspoon of olive oil and a quarter cup of salsa.

Heat half your oil in a frying pan, and fry one egg until desired doneness. Heat the remaining olive oil in a separate pan, warming both sides of your tortilla. As the tortilla begins to crisp along the edges, spoon on your salsa. Transfer your salsa-topped tortilla to a plate and finish with your fried egg.     

Calorie counts will vary based on the tortilla and salsa you choose, but there are a few tricks to ensure your breakfast stays around 235 calories. Choose a fresh salsa with whole ingredients and no additives, or combine tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and lime juice to create your own. Scouring the bread aisle for tortillas that contain fewer than 100 calories is another surefire way to keep calories under wraps. The egg’s protein content—6 grams—will help keep you fuller, longer and stop mid-morning snacking.

Egg-stuffed avocado

4 / 8 Egg-stuffed avocado

This Instagram-worthy breakfast looks almost too good to eat, but it's actually easy to whip up. Slice one medium avocado in half and place onto a baking sheet. Crack one whole egg into the center and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes. Top with sliced green onions, a drizzle of hot sauce or your favorite fresh herbs before cutting into your creation.

This baked breakfast contains about 235 calories. For a dose of sweetness and a punch of healthy carbohydrates, slice up a cup of your favorite fruit to munch along with it. A cup of apple slices contains 57 calories, the same serving of blueberries has 84 calories and a cup of watermelon cubes, 46 calories.

This morning meal is loaded with around 15 grams of healthy monounsaturated fats, which boasts benefits like lower cholesterol levels and a reduction in heart disease and stroke risk.

Mashed sweet potato bowl

5 / 8 Mashed sweet potato bowl

Mashed sweet potato bowls are another make-ahead option for breakfast. At the beginning of the week, bake or boil a few peeled sweet potatoes, mash them up and store them in an airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to build your bowl.

The orange mash makes a great base for toppings like nuts and nut butters, bananas or a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt. Per mashed cup, sweet potato contains 180 calories, plus 4 grams of protein and more than 750 times the daily recommended amount of vitamin A, which your body needs to produce white blood cells and promote proper vision and immune function.

Calculate the calories of your meal based on your specific toppings, and be mindful not to overdo it. One tasty option, a cup-sized serving of mashed sweet potato adorned with one medium banana and a tablespoon of salt-free almond butter, contains 385 calories.

Southwest egg scramble

6 / 8 Southwest egg scramble

Scrambled eggs come together in just minutes, but without the right additions, can be bland and boring. This southwest-inspired egg dish contains loads of color, flavor and nutrition. In a nonstick skillet, sauté a tablespoon of chopped white onion and a quarter cup of diced bell pepper. Add two tablespoons of black beans and two whisked eggs or egg whites and cook through. Top with a tablespoon or two of fresh tomato salsa for a recipe that contains under 200 calories, and over 100 calories fewer if you opt for egg whites.

Beans and whole eggs pack a punch of protein, about 8 grams per serving. Your body relies on the nutrient for proper function of each of your cells, so getting enough is important. The National Academy of Medicine recommends consuming at least 8 grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight, and starting your day with this meal helps you get a jump on reaching this goal.

Chia pudding parfait

7 / 8 Chia pudding parfait

Chia seeds have quickly become a superfood sensation, and can be blended into smoothies, sprinkled over salads or added to the top of picture-worthy acai bowls. But this recipe makes these small black seeds the star of the show.

The benefits of chia seeds are pretty sweet. Per ounce, about 2 tablespoons, the small seeds contain 4,915 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are essential for health, but the body can't produce them, so a diet rich in foods like chia and flax seeds, certain fish, walnuts and leafy vegetables is important. Omega-3s provide energy for the body and play an important role in the formation of brain, eye and sperm cells.    

The night before you plan to enjoy your pudding, measure a quarter cup of chia seeds and one cup of unsweetened almond milk into an airtight container and stir. Add flavors like unsweetened cocoa powder, stevia, cinnamon, maple syrup or honey. Come morning, top your thick pudding with unsweetened coconut flakes, sliced fruit or granola, and dig in. Calories will vary depending on what you choose to add to your parfait, but the plain pudding sweetened with a teaspoon of honey contains approximately 290 calories. 

Avocado toast

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Skip the trip to the eclectic café and create this wholesome and filling morning meal at home. Grab yourself a slice of whole grain bread, toast until desired crispiness is achieved and layer on half of a ripe, mashed avocado. Go the savory route and top with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes or sweeten up your toast with a combination of sliced strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Be mindful not to load your healthy base with too many extra calories.     

Depending on the calories in your bread and your toppings of choice, the nutrition for this meal will vary. Some multi-grain toast varieties can keep this breakfast around 230 calories without extra toppings, but it has so much more to offer. Whole grains are rich in fiber, and one slice of toast contains about 8 percent of the daily recommended value. Not only does ample fiber help keep your digestive system in check, it might also help control blood sugar levels and hunger.

Fat is another hunger fighter, keeping your feeling fuller, longer. Avocado is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, almost 10 grams in half the fruit, which can help ease inflammation and lower cholesterol levels. Half an avocado also boasts about 7 grams of fiber. With a breakfast so easy to put together, there's no reason to skip a morning meal.