Breakfast isn't a meal you want to skip—we know that much. And with so many fast-food places now offering healthier options, it seems easy to find something to munch on before you get to the office. Even better, you no longer have just the option of a delicious (but calorific) croissant and can pick something nutritious. But what if the healthy breakfast you think you've chosen isn't as good for you as you thought? The truth is that green juice and porridge laden with fruit might not be the super-healthy brekkie you had considered it to be. So how do you make better choices when you're on the go and in a rush?
We spoke to nutritionist Shona Wilkinson, who gave us her pick of the breakfasts she'd choose from some of our favorite fast-food places, including Pret-a-Manger, Eat, and Starbucks. When selecting your breakfast, the number one trick, she says, is to ensure you pick something with protein in it: "If you have too much sugar, you only get a rush of energy for an hour and a half. So protein helps avoid that." It will also keep you fuller for longer and ensure you don't have a mid-morning sugar crash that will make you reach for the biscuit tin.
Keep scrolling for the best healthy fast-food breakfasts.
Best breakfast: Egg & Spinach Protein Pot
Good news: Your morning run to Pret isn't the unhealthy habit you might have thought it was. The only thing you need to watch out for is skipping out on the protein aspect of your brekkie. According to Wilkinson, you can go for porridge so long as you add some extra protein, which she says is easiest to do with added nuts or peanut butter. We like the idea of keeping a small container of peanut butter in your bag to add when you get to the office, or even almond butter if you prefer. But if you want to be hardcore and go for the less-sweet protein option, choose the boiled egg and spinach pot.
Best breakfast: Peanut & Banana Whole-Grain Bagel
One of the Byrdie team's favorite places to pick up breakfast turned out to be one of the healthiest (phew). True, an Abokado bagel doesn't sound healthy, but when it's whole grain, Wilkinson says it's a good option. The added peanut butter, which comes from the healthier Pips & Nut brand (note—it's not made with palm oil and added sugar) is your ideal protein for the morning. Plus, the banana gives you a bit of a sweet kick, if you need it (which we do).
Best breakfast: Perfect Porridge (without the fruit)
Scoring fairly low on the healthy breakfast front was the ubiquitous coffee shop. Look, we love an iced mocha with extra whip as much as the next person, but we know that's not exactly the best idea when it comes to a nutritious brekkie (sad face). So how do you navigate a menu that mainly consists of white bread (which is full of sugar, even if they all have protein in the middle)? Opt for the porridge, and say no to the fruit. Instead, buy some nuts that Starbucks sells individually.
Best breakfast: BBQ beans with a poached egg, avocado, and feta
One place we weren't necessarily expecting to score high on a nutritionist's list of places to get healthy breakfasts on the go is Eat. Wilkinson was suitably impressed by plenty of the protein-rich breakfasts on offer. Sadly, of course, croissants aren't ever going to be the best choice, but if you're after carbs, Wilkinson says sourdough is a better idea than normal white bread, as it's not so processed, and it doesn't contain as much sugar. When asked what she'd go for, she chose the BBQ beans, poached egg, avocado, and feta. Yum.
Best breakfast: Granola yogurt
Another great way to get protein into your diet is by opting for yogurt, which is why the best breakfast in Caffè Nero is the granola yogurt selection, as it contains protein. Sure, there is fruit available, but that's not always going to give you the satisfaction you need that protein offers, says Wilkinson. "Fruit isn't unhealthy, but I would be very conscious that I'm not having protein with it," she says. "I would feel very hungry in an hour and a half."