Looking for a healthy breakfast when eating out? Here are our dietitians' favorite best-bets

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On hectic mornings do you sometimes run out the door hungry and empty-handed, hoping to find a healthy breakfast when eating out? Here are our dietitians' favorite breakfast possibilities for busy mornings.

healthy breakfast when eating out

How to find a healthy breakfast when eating out

In our busy lifestyles, we may head out empty-handed with an empty stomach in the morning. Something hot to eat sounds so good, but it can be challenging to find a healthy breakfast when eating out. In that case, it is good to be aware of healthier choices from fast-food places, especially when you are trying to lose weight.

A team of MyNetDiary dietitians reviewed hot breakfast items from major U.S. fast-food chains. We excluded any healthier menu items that could be unavailable during regular breakfast hours.

Components of a healthy breakfast

The target criteria for our list of "healthier" breakfast items included:

Since it was challenging to meet all of these targets from a single fast-food breakfast item, we relaxed the requirements for fiber and protein a bit. Plain oatmeal (which appeared on several menus) contained only four to five grams of protein, and the breakfast sandwiches typically contained only one gram of fiber unless a whole-grain sandwich was offered.

Healthier fast-food breakfast choices (or the "not-as-unhealthy -as-the-others" list)

The list appears in alphabetical order by fast-food chain name. Complete nutrition information for each item is available in MyNetDiary with Premium membership. Note that not all items might be considered "healthy" compared to what you make at home. However, compared to other fast food selections, these were decent choices when looking for a healthy breakfast when eating out. A word of caution-don't ruin your better-for-you breakfast food choice with a high-calorie drink or side. A plain unsweetened beverage such as coffee or tea makes the best choice.

Burger King

No breakfast items met criteria.

Chick-fil-A

Greek Yogurt Parfait
Honorable mention:
Egg White Grill (above sodium target)

Dairy Queen

No breakfast items met criteria.

Dunkin Donuts

Wake-up Wrap: Egg White and Turkey Sausage
Veggie Egg White Omelet

McDonald's

Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

Honorable mention:
Egg McMuffin (above saturated fat target)

Starbucks

Classic Oatmeal
Hearty Blueberry Oatmeal*
Turkey Bacon, Cheddar & Egg White Sandwich
Fresh Blueberries & Honey Greek Yogurt Parfait*
Mango & Coconut Yogurt Bowl*

Subway

No breakfast items met criteria

Taco Bell

Breakfast Soft Taco Egg & Cheese

Wendy's

No breakfast items met criteria

* A bit high in total sugars.

Given that most Americans are overweight and roughly one-third of adults eat at least one fast-food meal a day, a healthy breakfast menu would be welcomed by anyone watching their weight when eating out.

Related content

Is breakfast necessary? Here's how eating breakfast may help you lose weight
Healthy and filling, high protein breakfast recipes designed for weight loss
Here's the truth about eggs and cholesterol that's worth a read

Reviewed and updated by Sue Heikkinen MS, RDN, CDCES on October 3, 2021

Dining Out->Fast Food Meal Planning & Diets->Breakfast
Oct 6, 2021
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

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