There’s no denying that the breakfast foods typically offered in college cafeterias—French toast, pancakes, bagels, cereals, eggs, bacon, sausage, etc.—are super tasty. But they’re also typically full of empty calories, highly processed, and laden with sugar, fat, and salt.
And not only do these foods offer a shortcut to the dreaded “Freshman 15”; they won’t actually keep you going through a full day of classes and extracurricular activities either. Instead, you’re likely to crash early in the day, because they lack the protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body needs. That’s why you should try the breakfast options listed below.
These breakfasts are easy, health, and tasty! They’ll keep your blood sugar in a healthy range so you don’t crash, and they will also keep you full, fuel your brain, provide you with necessary vitamins, and ultimately jump-start your day.
Best of all, they're easy to put together (or order) in your dining hall, and you can totally make them in your dorm too if you have a mini fridge/microwave combo.
Greek yogurt and berries
- Try 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt + 1 cup mixed berries.
- With the high protein content—nearly 17 grams per serving in most Greek yogurts!—and no sugar or fat, this breakfast will keep you fuller longer.
- Make your life even easier by stocking your fridge or freezer with a big bag of ready-to-go berries you can just scoop out and dump on your yogurt.
- Health bonus! Greek yogurt is full of probiotics, healthy cultures your digestive system need to function. Many studies have shown that probiotics help improve the immune system, reduce cholesterol levels, treat intestinal disorders, protect against allergens, prevent some cancers, lower blood pressure, and more.
- Try 2 slices of whole wheat toast + 2 tablespoons all-natural, no-sugar-added almond butter or 1 mashed banana with cinnamon.
- Avoid bread with ingredients such as enriched wheat flour, plain white flour, unbleached wheat flour, and high fructose corn syrup
- One slice of bread should contain at least 3–4 grams of fiber and protein. Opt for no or low-sugar bread if you can too; a good example is Ezekiel bread.
- Try 1 cup oatmeal + 1 cup blueberries + 1 tablespoon honey + dash of cinnamon.
- Oats are an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, and they will keep you full for an extended period of time.
- Avoid those flavored oatmeal packets! They’re tempting because they’re convenient, but they often contain high levels of sugar, which are just empty calories. You’re better off buying your own plain quick-cooking or instant oats and flavoring them yourself. Besides, they’re usually cheaper that way!
- Some people simply don’t have the time or the urge to consume a big breakfast first thing in the morning, and that’s okay! A single piece of fruit can do the trick.
- DYK consuming fruit on an empty stomach provides more nutrition than eating fruit after a meal? Because it takes a long time to digest, has a high water content, and the nutrients are more fully absorbed on an empty stomach, a simple piece of fruit can keep you full for a surprisingly long time.
- Apples, bananas, pears, watermelon chunks, cantaloupe slices, and/or grapes are all great options, especially for busy college students.
- If you’re lucky, your dining hall or campus coffee shop can hook you up with a healthy smoothie, meaning fresh fruit and veggies and other nutritious add-ins. Or if you have a blender, you can easily make this breakfast to order in your dorm.
- Ask for an all fruit and vegetable (yay, kale!) smoothie with added almond milk or skim milk if you like.
- Avoid adding sweetened yogurt—or ice cream or sherbet!—to your smoothies. Again, just empty calories.
- You can also ask for soy or whey protein powder to keep you fuller longer. Pro tip: your muscles will absorb whey quicker, especially if you are an athlete or are consuming your smoothie post-workout in the morning.
- Eggs are a very high source of protein, which will keep you full for an extended period of time and provide you with vital nutrients.
- When in the cafeteria, try hard-boiled eggs or an egg-white omelet, with all vegetables. When in your dorm, try making scrambled eggs in a mug in your microwave or even making hard-boiled eggs in an electrical kettle!
- Avoid adding cheese if you can—this is supposed to be a healthy breakfast, remember? If you gotta have cheese, make it feta cheese or low-moisture mozzarella.
- Cereal can be an excellent source of iron, protein, zinc, and fiber, plus it’s a tasty, easy snack (and super portable when it’s plain and dry).
- Many college students opt for cereal for every meal because it is easy—but some cereals are full of sugar and fat, and they lack protein and fiber. Basically, anything you loved as a child is out.
- Go for whole grain cereals with low-fat soymilk, almond milk, or skim milk. Healthy brands include Puffins, Follow Your Heart Cereals, Nature Path Cereals, and Kashi.
- Avoid cereals that contain high fructose corn syrup, sugar, unbleached wheat flour, and enriched wheat flour, and look for at least 3–4 grams of fiber and protein per serving.
P.S. One of the best ways to start your morning is with some warm lemon water or warm herbal tea. So fire up your (RA-approved) electric kettle and fill that free mug you got at orientation!