Breakfast has long been revered as the most important meal of the day. There’s no short supply of benefits, whereas skipping breakfast increases a kid’s risk for diabetes, a teen’s risk for metabolic syndrome, and generally promotes weight gain and chances of other diseases, like cardiovascular disease.

At least that was the notion before The New York Times health columnist Gretchen Reynolds blew up breakfast’s spot, reporting on two recent studies that found eating breakfast is really great, yet no harm is done if you don’t. These studies did not find, respectively, skipping morning meals impacted a person’s weight, cholesterol levels, nor did it impact their metabolic rates and blood sugar. An idea The Atlantic’s James Hamblin called “apathetic.”

“One thing I've learned as a health writer is that a wealth of academic research is the product of personal vendettas, some healthier than others,” Hamblin wrote. “The crux of the breakfast divide is a phenomenon known among nutrition scientists as ‘proposed effect of breakfast on obesity,’ or the PEBO. It's the idea people who don't eat breakfast actually end up eating more and/or worse things over the course of the day because their nightly fast was not properly broken.”

Hamblin went on to cite research from David Katz, director of Yale University's Griffin Prevention Research Center, who first introduced the nuanced approach to breakfast. According to Katz, “Research about breakfast tends to divide the world into those who skip, and those who don't. But deferring and skipping are not the same. Skipping despite hunger, and deferring for want of it, are not the same. And clearly all breakfasts are not created equal."

A Spoonful Of Sugar Doesn’t Make The Hunger Go Down

There is one universal idea that weaves between the two sides of what we’ll refer to as the breakfast divide from now on, and it’s that some breakfasts are infinitely better than others. The Times reported flaked cereals, including corn flakes and Raisin Bran, as well as childhood staples, including Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs have seen a decline in sales for the better part of a decade as consumers are more aware of the amount of sugar they include.

Earlier this year, research published in JAMA Internal Medicine found people who consume 25 percent or more of their daily calories as sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease. That’s in regards to the sugars companies bother to list. Today, companies sneak sugar into their products under other names, like fructose, and they jack the amounts up to make some of their products lower in fat or fat-free. The reality is consumers easily eat too much sugar daily.

Still, nothing is quicker than a bowl of cereal. We get that. And with strong evidence on one side of the divide suggesting skipping breakfast could set you up for a binge later, it’s better than nothing, right? Hamblin doesn’t think so. And honestly, neither do we. No one is too busy to set a few minutes aside to prepare a healthy breakfast, and each of the meals below cut corners, not health or taste.


Within the billion dollar cereal industry are a couple options still worthy of your bowl. Muesli, for example, is a mixture of rolled oats, wheat, rye, barley, and other whole grains, seeds, and nuts (depending on the brand), and is a rich source of fiber and iron. It can be enjoyed as a cold cereal, but it's a healthy breakfast in its own right.

Bob's Red Mill sells muesli, and the company recommends mixing it in with fresh berries and yogurt and using it as a base for muffins. Make their breakfast bar recipe one day you have a little extra time and enjoy the leftovers during the week.


A study out of the University of Cambridge found “high yogurt consumption, compared to no yogurt consumption, is associated with a 28 percent reduction in the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes.” Yogurt is a convenient source of gut-friendly probiotics, protein, and other vitamins. They’re also pre-packaged, so in the morning you can literally grab-and-go.

Stonyfield, Siggi’s, and Fage are three brands doing it right where yogurt is concerned. But to be sure, check out Medical Daily’s guide to picking the healthiest yogurt.

Overnight Oats

Oatmeal is also known as hot cereal, and it’s healthy when you add water or milk to old fashioned rolled oats. The packets you preheat in the microwave, while convenient, are also sneaky sources of added sugar and stripped of raw oatmeal’s high-fiber nutrition.

Cut down cook time when you mix up a bowl or mason jar with your favorite oatmeal ingredients — rolled or steel-cut oats, milk, a dash of cinnamon, chia seeds, maybe some fruit — and let it sit in the fridge overnight. While you're sleeping, the oats will absorb the milk, soften and puff out. Maintain traditional, hot temps when you stick your bowl of jar into the microwave for a minute.

Avocado Toast

Let me upgrade you, we imagine someone with an avocado sang to their slices of whole wheat toast one day because, all of a sudden, this is the breakfast to have. The basic idea is to cover two pieces of toast with smashed-up avocado, a fried or hard-boiled egg, a sprinkle of sea salt and crushed red pepper flakes.

Sure, slicing and smashing avocado adds a minute or two to your total breakfast time (definitely not like reaching into the fridge for a yogurt), but avocado, a superfood, is rich in vitamins and monounsaturated fats — the good-for-you fats that lower belly fat, improve cholesterol, and boost your brain.

Eggs are not required for avocado toast, and they make the most sense to cut if you’re short on time. But, a slew of science shows a protein-rich breakfast (eggs fit the bill) curbs hunger and the amount of calories a person consumes at lunch. Here’s a hack: hard-boiling a handful of eggs on, say, a Sunday, makes it so you can quickly grab eggs during the week to slice and put atop your toast.

Breakfast Smoothie

Move over, miserable juice cleanses: smoothies are king now. Yes, smoothies involve a lot of ingredients (ones you don’t even have on hand) and clean-up, but if you take time to prepare them the night before, in the way you would your oats, you’ll have a quick, easy sip ready-to-go in the morning.

One thing to remember is to balance your smoothie’s fruit ingredients with vegetables. Fruits are natural sweeteners and when the blender strips their fibrous skin, you’re essentially left with sugar…if you skip the handful of spinach or kale or cucumber or what have you.

Oh, and as for the consistency that breaks down overnight? FitSugar to the resuce: “If you have a long commute, then store your smoothie in a Blender Bottle. Each cup comes with a wire-whisk-like ball that easily combines ingredients with a simple shake — the perfect solution in case any ingredients have settled overnight.”