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If you're like us, your mornings are so jam-packed you can barely get out the door on time, let alone find five minutes to gulp down a bowl of cereal. But miss this important meal and risk packing on the pounds: Research at Michigan State University shows that women who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight than those who eat it regularly. "One reason may be that they're so hungry they overeat at lunch and dinner," explains Susan Burke, RD, a certified diabetes educator and chief nutritionist for ediets.com. Fortunately, it is possible to eat a healthy breakfast fast. These 16 quick, tasty, satisfying options are a girl-on-the-go's best friend.
Quick Breakfast Fix: Dannon Light 'n Fit Smoothie Carb & Sugar Control Mixed Berry and South Beach Diet High Protein Cereal Bar Peanut Butter
210 calories, 15g protein, 28g carbohydrate, 5g fat (2g saturated), 3g fiber
Why: The yogurt smoothie gives you bone-building calcium and the cereal bar packs plenty of protein, which will help curb your appetite all morning, says Lisa Hark, RD, PhD, director of the nutrition education program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Quick Breakfast Fix: Two slices Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat Whole Grain Bread topped with 1 tablespoon MaraNatha Organic Almond Butter and 1/4 cup Sun-Maid dried apricots
415 calories, 12.5g protein, 69g carbohydrate, 11g fat (2g saturated), 11g fiber
Why: "Lots of fiber at breakfast slows digestion, prevents sugar spikes, and keeps you satisfied longer," says Burke. Plus, researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, have found that those who consumed more fiber were likely to have lower body-fat percentages than those who ate the least. The almond butter adds protein, and the dried fruit is high in vitamin A, which helps promote good vision. Just don't eat too much -- a 1/4-cup serving of dried apricots has 100 calories.
Quick Breakfast Fix: Morningstar Farms Breakfast Sandwich with Cheese
280 calories, 28g protein, 35g carbohydrate, 3g fat (0.5g saturated), 5g fiber
Why: "Microwave foods are often high in sugar and saturated and trans fats," Burke says -- but not this one! It's made with fat-free egg scramblers, skim-milk cheese, and a meat substitute that does an excellent impersonation of real sausage.
Quick Breakfast Fix: One packet Nature's Path Instant Hot Oatmeal Original mixed with 2 tablespoons Bob's Red Mill Flaxseed Meal and 1/2 cup raspberries
282 calories, 10g protein, 43g carbohydrate, 8g fat (0.5g saturated), 12g fiber
Why: The rolled oats provide some protein and healthy carbs, and the berries are loaded with antioxidants and fiber, plus the flaxseed has good-for-your-heart omega-3 fatty acids.
Quick Breakfast Fix: One Van's Hearty Oats Waffle Berry Boost topped with 1 tablespoon MaraNatha Natural Almond Butter and 1 tablespoon Eden Organic Apple Butter
215 calories, 6g protein, 23g carbohydrate, 12g fat (0.7g saturated), 5g fiber
Why: The waffles are made with nutrient-rich whole grains instead of refined white flour, and the almond butter provides bone-strengthening calcium and phosphorous. The apple butter adds a fruity sweetness but contains just 4 grams of sugar.
Quick Breakfast Fix: One-half cup Mother's Multigrain Hot Cereal with 1 sliced banana and 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
331 calories, 9g protein, 58g carbohydrate, 11g fat (1g saturated), 9g fiber
Why: This whole-grain cereal contains no added sugar. Toss in potassium-rich bananas and top with walnuts, which are high in omega-3s, and you've got a healthy, hearty start to your day.
Quick Breakfast Fix: Subway Honey Mustard Ham & Egg on a Deli Roll
270 calories, 18g protein, 42g carbohydrate, 5g fat (1.5g saturated), 3g fiber
Why: The absence of fatty sausage and cheese makes this a smart choice. Follow it up with a piece of fiber-rich fruit for a well-balanced meal, suggests Burke.
Quick Breakfast Fix: McDonald's Egg McMuffin and Apple Dippers (without the caramel sauce)
335 calories, 17g protein, 38g carbohydrate, 12g fat (4.5g saturated), 2g fiber
Why: It's one of the leanest fast-food breakfast sandwiches around (another choice contains almost 50 grams of fat!). The apples provide vitamin C and some fiber.
Quick Breakfast Fix: Denny's Quaker Oatmeal, Scrambled Egg Beaters, and grapes
211 calories, 17g protein, 35g carbohydrate, 3g fat (0g saturated), 4g fiber
Why: Steer clear of belly-busting dishes like the Meat Lover's Scramble -- which has a whopping 1,310 calories and 73 grams of fat! Don't be afraid to make special requests: Order a banana on the side to slice into your oatmeal, or ask the cook to toss veggies like peppers and mushrooms into your eggs.
Quick Breakfast Fix: Two slices French toast and fruit cup at Bob Evans
424 calories, 8g protein, 66g carbohydrate, 5g fat (0g saturated), 6g fiber
Why: This meal is a winner because it contains no saturated fat. Ask the chef to use cooking spray rather than grease to coat the griddle. The fruit satisfies your sweet tooth and helps keep you away from high-sugar syrups.
Quick Breakfast Fix: Two slices rye bread with 2 slices each Canadian bacon and tomato
205 calories, 17g protein, 34g carbohydrate, 6g fat (1g saturated), 4g fiber
Why: Canadian bacon is a leaner source of protein to add to your breakfast. Order your toast dry with butter on the side, but spread it lightly -- at 100 calories, one tablespoonful every morning can result in 10 extra pounds a year.
Quick Breakfast Fix: Two scrambled eggs and 1 slice whole wheat toast topped with 1 tablespoon jam
275 calories, 17g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 11g fat (3g saturated), 2g fiber
Why: A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that women who ate this meal in the morning felt satisfied longer and consumed significantly fewer calories a day than those who had nonfat yogurt and a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast.
If you exercise first thing, eat beforehand to raise blood glucose levels that have dropped overnight. A 200- to 250-calorie snack with 30 to 50 grams of carbohydrates will let you work out harder and burn more calories, says Monique Ryan, RD, author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes.
What to Eat: Stonyfield Farm Fat Free Plain Yogurt (6 ounces) mixed with 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 tablespoon maple syrup/ and 1 tablespoon Planters Sunflower Kernels
214 calories, 10g protein, 40g carbohydrate, 4g fat (1g saturated), 5g fiber
Why: "The natural sugars in the blueberries, maple syrup, and yogurt give your muscles a speedy energy source," explains Ryan. Sunflower seeds add crunch and the disease-fighting antioxidants vitamin E and selenium; the blueberries are also antioxidant powerhouses. "Frozen are just as nutritious as fresh," Ryan adds.
What to Eat: One tablespoon Arrowhead Mills Natural Peanut Butter on 1 small whole wheat pita and 1 kiwi
215 calories, 8g protein, 30g carbohydrate, 10g fat (1g saturated), 5g fiber
Why: A whole-grain pita and a piece of fresh fruit such as a kiwi are easy ways to boost sagging blood-sugar levels and stop hunger pangs. "Natural peanut butter supplies heart-healthy fat with no added sugar," says Hark.What to Eat After You Work Out
"Research shows that eating within 30 minutes to an hour after exercise improves muscle recovery," says Ryan. Aim for a meal with 50 to 75 grams of carbohydrates and 10 to 25 grams of protein.
What to Eat: Jamba Juice Protein Berry Pizzazz (16 ounces)
280 calories, 15g protein, 56g carbohydrate, 1g fat (0g saturated), 4g fiber
Why: "High-quality protein like soymilk and protein powder hastens recovery," says Ryan. And the fruit provides vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.
What to Eat: One Sara Lee Heart Healthy 100% Whole Wheat Bagel topped with 4 slices Healthy Choice Smoked Turkey Breast and 1 slice Sargento Reduced Fat Swiss Cheese
328 calories, 25g protein, 50g carbohydrate, 7g fat (2g saturated), 6g fiber
Why: The carbs will help your muscles repair themselves, and the turkey and cheese supply protein.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2007.