Every conversation about health seems to come back to gut health. Often referred to as “the second brain,” the microbiome affects more than just digestion; it’s connected to everything from…
It’s a universally agreed upon truism that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (and there are some studies to back this up). But while most of us are pretty good about making sure our breakfast is high in filling protein and healthy fats, there’s one nutrient most of us are overlooking in our rush to get out the door: fiber.
“Nine out of 10 Americans do not reach fiber goals with an average intake at 12-14 grams out of the 25-38 grams recommended by the US Dietary Guidelines,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. And fiber has a lot of health benefits to offer, especially first thing in the morning. “Fiber helps to normalize your bowel movements, preventing constipation and bloating, while also keeping you full for long periods of time. Fiber is also an essential part of healthy eating in general, as it reduces heart disease, regulates blood sugar, and helps to prevent GI cancers,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, and owner of BZ Nutrition in NYC.
Breakfast is a great time of day to pack in extra fiber, which not only makes your gut happy but also keeps you satisfied and less likely to reach for the office donut tray or candy bowl mid-morning, Harris-Pincus says. The same goes for protein and good fats, so pair them with those fibrous foods.
Not sure what to eat? These RDs are here to help get you started.
“One of my favorites is super simple: Add a half cup of cottage cheese and top with a half cup of high fiber cereal like Fiber One or All Bran, and one cup raspberries or blackberries,” says Harris-Pincus. (If you don’t like cottage cheese, go with low fat, plain Greek yogurt instead, which also has a ton of protein.) The berries are the highest in fiber among fruit, with eight grams per cup, and the cereal contains about 14 grams per half cup. That’s a total of 22 grams, which almost meets the daily goal for women in one single meal.
When it comes to gut health, avocado toast is anything but basic. “This is a great savory breakfast option that is high in fiber and antioxidants,” says Zeitlin. Toast a slice of your favorite whole grain bread and top it with half of an avocado (either mashed or in slices), she says—you’ll get seven grams of fiber from the avocado plus a few more from the bread. Then sprinkle on a few tablespoons of chia seeds, flax seeds, or hemp hearts to add some extra protein.
Check out the many health benefits of avocado in our You Versus Food series:
For a sweeter breakfast option, go fruity for that fiber. “Your favorite type of apple with two tablespoons of almond butter will give you just about eight grams of fiber for the meal to fight any constipation or bloat you may be feeling,” says Zeitlin. You can add some extra protein by sprinkling on chopped walnuts, pistachios, or slivered almonds.
Kelly Jones, RD, CSSD, LDN, loves a breakfast sandwich for an easy dose of fiber first thing in the morning. “Pick a [whole grain] English muffin with five grams of fiber per serving and pair with protein-rich hard boiled eggs,” she says. Serve with a cup of blueberries on the side for an additional four grams of fiber. (She suggests slicing up the hard boiled eggs and putting them inside the English muffin, then serving the blueberries on the side.) “By pairing with blueberries you’re starting your day off with nutrient-rich produce, too,” she says.
Rolled oats are an excellent source of fiber. “In addition, the soluble fiber found in oats has been shown to help reduce your cholesterol levels,” says Toby Amidor, RD, award-winning nutrition expert and author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. She likes overnight oats in particular because “[they’re] an easy way to get off the hot oatmeal bandwagon, plus prep it the night before so you have nothing to do in the morning except eat it!” If you’re looking for a particular recipe, she recommends trying her strawberry-mint iteration.
ICYMI, oats are a nutrition superstar—get all the deets here:
Fruit naturally has fiber, but you can up the ante by adding some veggies (yes, really) to your morning smoothie. “”Not only will you get a healthy boost of antioxidants, but it will also boost up the fiber,” says Amidor. “For example, add a handful of spinach or kale to a berry smoothie. Want even more fiber in your morning bevie? Add a spoonful of peanut butter, flax or chia seeds, or a piece of avocado,” she recommends. Cauliflower also makes for a surprisingly creamy smoothie.
Find yourself with a little bit more time in the a.m.? Mix up your breakfast game with a high-fiber take on a breakfast burrito. “Enjoy your morning scrambled eggs mixed with black beans and vegetables like red peppers and onions [and] rolled into a whole wheat wrap. The beans, veggies, and whole grain wrap will provide a healthy dose of fiber,” suggest Amidor. This way, you’re getting a great balance of fiber, protein, grains, and healthy fats to really power your brain. Add some avocado for a creamy dose of fats if you like.
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