“Good morning!” shouldn’t be stressful. For teens looking to lose weight, breakfast choices can create a day of obsessing and anxiety over food. So, what are healthy breakfasts for teen weight loss?
A good breakfast starts with the right mindset. The morning meal can jumpstart the day by fueling a teenager for growth, development, and beyond. Quality sources of macro- and micro-nutrients, which come in the form of healthy food and drink choices, are what balanced breakfasts are all about.
The healthiest breakfasts for teenagers to lose weight are foods low in added sugar and that contain complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats such as avocado toast, overnight oats, veggie omelettes, breakfast burritos or sandwiches, and protein fruit/veggie smoothies.
Read on to learn everything you and your teen need to know about nutrient-rich, healthy breakfasts for teenage weight loss.
What Should a Teen Eat for Breakfast for Weight Loss?
Teenagers focused on maintaining a healthy weight should plan a healthy breakfast to start their day. Starting the day on the right foot (or should I say, food?) can really set the tone for the rest of the day. Healthy weight habits begin at breakfast. It’s crucial for any teen to focus on a healthy breakfast meal.
Breakfast should focus on healthy carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and for an extra boost of nutrients- vegetables when possible. The protein, fiber, and healthy fats will help you to feel full and satisfied until your next meal or snack and won’t spike your blood sugar. You’ll be properly fueled and energized for your day.
Some great ideas for a healthy breakfast include breakfast burritos, protein fruit/veggie smoothies, lowfat Greek yogurt parfaits, avocado toast, veggie omelettes, oatmeal with nuts/seeds and fruit, and whole wheat breakfast sandwiches.
Consider creating a morning meal with the following foods:
- Fruits & Vegetables– They offer vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients — especially when eaten whole.
- Whole Grains– Full of dietary fiber, which can help make a feeling of fullness last. Whole-grains also provide quality carbohydrates (carbs) and B-vitamins, which help the body stay energized without a “crash” later in the day.
- Low-fat Dairy– Milk, yogurt, and cheese all provide calcium, protein, and vitamin D. Look for soy beverages as an alternative to dairy (they provide the closest nutrient profile to milk out of the known dairy alternatives).
- Lean Protein– Contains nutrients that repair or build muscle. Choose options such as lean beef, poultry (chicken or turkey without the skin), beans, seafood, lentils, soy foods
Worst Breakfasts for Teenagers
Unfortunately, many popular breakfast foods are high in sugar and are not a great idea for teenagers. Teenagers need a good, filling, nutritious breakfast. Unhealthy sugary breakfasts will spike a teenager’s blood sugar, leading to crashes later on that can cause fatigue, irritability, inability to focus, and unhealthy cravings later in the day that can sabotage weight loss efforts.
Teenagers should limit sugary breakfast foods, such as:
- sugary breakfast cereals
- instant oatmeal packets with added sugar
- toaster waffles and pancakes with imitation maple syrup
- granola bars
- cinnamon rolls
- flavored yogurt with added sugar
Planning for a good breakfast can take as little as 2 minutes of your time. It’s worth it.
What Should a Teenager Eat for Breakfast?
A simple tip for making a great breakfast is to make sure that half the plate is filled with fruits and vegetables. It’s a great visual for a teenager trying to get the right balance of nutrients. This doesn’t have to be the literal half of a plate — for example, an omelet could work quite nicely to fulfill this guideline.
You won’t always eat vegetables with breakfast, but it could be a great goal to try. Try adding veggies to your smoothies, cooking a veggie omelette, trying a breakfast wrap or breakfast sandwich with veggies, or just adding a side of veggies. Some veggies can be quite delicious and satisfying in the morning!
You might not feel like eating green beans or asparagus first thing in the morning, but other veggies go quite well with breakfast. Try carrot juice, sweet potato hash, cut up bell pepper strips, or raw broccoli.
What are Good Breakfasts That a Teen Can Learn to Make?
With some simple planning and preparation, a teenager can get a nutritious breakfast in the morning, and even learn to prepare it by themself. Breakfast is a great meal to learn to prepare on your own. It can be as simple as you like!
Here are some great breakfasts that a teenager can learn to make:
Easy to Cook Breakfasts for Teens
There are many amazing options that teens looking to lose a healthy amount of weight can make in the morning.
Here are a few ideas of easy foods for teenagers to cook:
- Scrambled eggs
- Whole-grain toast + nut butter
- Avocado toast
- Whole-wheat pancakes or waffles
Easy to Prepare Breakfasts for Teens
Many on-the-road breakfast pastries are loaded with saturated fats and carbohydrates, without providing needed nutrients.
Homemade breakfasts can be made quickly and offer a rich spread of vitamins and minerals to fuel the day’s activities. For teens, the right balance of nutrients can help with healthy growth and development.
Here are a few ideas of easy foods for teenagers to prepare with minimal cooking:
- Overnight oats
- Yogurt parfaits
- Fruit salad
- Cottage cheese and cantaloupe
On-the-Go and Portable Breakfast Ideas
Breakfasts don’t have to be limited to “traditional” items. Switch it up with a sandwich, quinoa salad, or a creation all your own!
For easy, on-the-go breakfast foods when you’re in a rush, try the following ideas:
Sweet Breakfasts for Teens On-the-Go
- A piece or slices of fruit + nut butter
- Dried fruit
- A carton of chocolate milk after a morning sports practice
- 100% fruit juice
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Strawberry Banana Smoothie (or any other flavor you desire!)
- Chia seed pudding (try 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in coconut water, mix overnight, and add fruit)
- Oatmeal or overnight oats
Savory Breakfasts for Teens On-the-Go
- A handful of nuts
- Avocado + whole-grain crackers
- Toasted whole-grain waffle with nut butter and fruit
- Low-fat cheese (i.e. string, cubed, sliced) and bell pepper strips
- Baby carrots + hummus
- Bean burrito
- String cheese wrapped in a slice of lean turkey
- Leftover veggie pizza
- A veggie omelet in a mug (mix and microwave for 2 minutes)
Grilled or Baked vs Fried Breakfast Foods
Fried foods are high in saturated fats. “Breaded” foods are often heavy in carbohydrates and “extra” calories as well.
Baked or grilled items, on the other hand, tend to preserve the nutrients in foods better. Getting nutrients is important at any time of the day, but it is especially important in the morning. Grilling and baking help to keep food items nutrient-rich.
Easy Baked or Grilled Breakfast Ideas:
- Baked Oatmeal
- Microwave instant oatmeal (no added sugar)
- Grilled fruits (i.e. pineapple) or vegetables (i.e. bell peppers)
- Grilled breakfast sandwich (i.e. grilled cheese with low-fat cheese, tomatoes, peppers, and whole-grain bread slices)
What Should a Teen Drink in the Morning?
Teens may be tempted to drink caffeine in the morning. For growing bodies, this can be disruptive. Energy drinks, soft drinks, and sometimes coffee and tea can contain stimulants that affect a teen’s sleep, concentration, and behavior.
Instead of starting the day with stimulants, focus on getting enough sleep and drinking the following alternatives.
The Best Breakfast Drinks for Teens
- Water Infused with fruit or cucumbers
- Low-fat or fat-free milk
- Fortified dairy beverage (be sure to check for added sugar and stick to brands with low or no added sugars)
- 100% fruit or vegetable juice
- Herbal or non-caffeinated tea
What should you do if you’re having trouble kicking the soda or caffeine habit? Start by switching to diet drinks. Then, reduce the quantity (number) of soft drinks each day by one serving until you’ve reached no more than 8 to 12 ounces a day.
The “gold standard” for hydration is water, so switch to drinking water or other nutritious options as soon as possible. Remember, quick fixes aren’t sustainable. It’s okay to take your time as you shift from soda to healthier drinks, but remember to always keep the end goal in sight!
Tips on Weight-Loss Friendly Foods for Teens
When it comes to teenagers losing weight, an awareness of portion sizes and the quality of food sources makes a significant difference.
Remember, there can be triggers other than what is on the plate. Be sure to pay attention to other influential factors, such as screen time and sleep patterns.
Is Weight Loss Recommended for Teenagers?
For most teenagers it is normal for weight to fluctuate during adolescence. However, dietitians don’t normally recommend weight loss for teenagers. There are special circumstances where weight loss can interfere with growth and development in a negative way. Restrictive diets can cause health problems at this age where nutrients are high in demand.
In fact, low-calorie diets can sabotage healthy habits.
With low-calorie diets, teens run the risk of:
- Not meeting nutrient needs
- Developing gastrointestinal (GI) abnormalities
- Osteoporosis, hip fractures, and other bone problems
- Decreased energy and concentration
- Developing gallstones (which can lead to abdominal pain and surgery)
Find Your Problem Areas
Even though restrictive diets aren’t healthy for teenagers, some teenagers are still overweight. Everyone has room to improve! For your situation, find triggers or areas where you might be making weight gain more likely. Genetics does account for some likelihood of weight gain, however developing healthy habits is empowering and increases the quality of life for many people who stick to a sustainable plan.
Some common behaviors that affect weight loss efforts include:
- Eating excessive added sugars and solid fats
- Eating excessive portions of food
- Skipping meals
- Eating out too frequently
- Grazing on high-calorie snacks all day
- Drinking high-calorie drinks regularly
- High alcohol consumption
- Emotional eating
- Eating mindlessly (i.e. due to watching television)
Motivation to Make a Change
Replacing unhealthy habits with new, healthier habits makes positive change more sustainable. For example, eating “healthier” can be a vague goal. Eating more fruits and vegetables by trying to add one serving each day is specific, realistic, and attainable for someone starting out on their weight loss journey.
Ask an Expert
When starting out, it can be easy to obsess over exercise or food. Remember two important things:
- You aren’t alone, and…
- It’s okay to ask for help!
A dietitian can help you find healthy yet sustainable ways to track your food intake. Experts can help you to focus on healthy habits instead of restriction or strict routines. It’s important to focus on what you are adding into your life instead of what you are removing, and an expert can help you to maintain that perspective.
How to Be Healthy as a Teen
Just like sports seasons, weight loss takes place at an optimal time over a certain season of life. Losing the weight all at once or “in time” for the start of the season can be a dangerous practice.
A dietitian can help discuss strategies for losing weight over the sports season with you. Gradual shifts are always more sustainable in the long run than “quick fixes”. They can also help you identify other factors influencing your eating habits, like lack of sleep (which can also affect weight).
- Is it Easy to Lose Weight as a Teenager?
- Should I Tell My Teen They Need to Lose Weight? Tips from a Dietitian
- What Causes Weight Gain in Teenage Girls?
- How Can I Tell if my Teen is Overweight? Advice from a Dietitian
Managing Teen Weight the Healthy Way
- Set Reminders
Instead of becoming obsessed with an eating schedule, set gentle reminders to eat something nutritious! This can be a great way to help you attend to your hunger cues, which you may be used to ignoring. It’s easy to lose track of time with a busy schedule, so setting reminders can reduce the amount of meals you skip or ignore.
- Know Your Food Groups
Many teen athletes load up on protein or carbohydrates, but forget to eat healthy proportions of other nutrient-rich foods. Don’t forget to include healthy fats and plant-based protein sources when planning your meals! Limit sources of added salt or sugar so that your body can be satisfied with the necessary nutrition it needs for peak performance.
- Identify & Evaluate “Extra” Calories
Working out isn’t a way to “earn” your calories. Instead, it is a unique way to utilize your body for health. Try to identify foods that don’t help fuel you or provide nutritional benefit (i.e. chips, fried foods). You’ll begin to notice that nutrient-poor foods may leave you feeling full but not feeling fueled.
- Snack on Smart Treats
There are many sweet treats that contain fueling ingredients. Try substituting natural sugars (i.e. honey, maple syrup, agave), that are often lower on the glycemic index, for cane sugar or brown sugar in recipes. This can help you better balance your blood sugar while you are trying to lose weight. Treats are okay occasionally, you don’t need to restrict them. Balance and moderation when it comes to desserts and treats is the key.
- Try Mindful Eating
Eating is routine, but it should also be intentional and intuitive. Your body sends you natural signals to show you it is hungry — pay attention to these! Hunger and fullness cues can help guide you towards your end goal.
Healthy Eating for Teens
- Start with Small Shifts
Making small changes over time can help you maintain a healthy weight. For example, choosing one simple swap, such as drinking sparkling water instead of caffeinated soda, can be a great step toward nourishing your body better than before.
- Tickle Your Taste Buds
The teen years are a time of growth and expansion! Don’t be afraid to try something new in terms of food. Order a new healthy menu item, or find delicious dishes you enjoy from exotic cuisines.
- Embrace Balance
Each day and for each individual person, “healthy” will look different. It’s okay to have pizza one day and salad the next. You can still have a balanced diet and enjoy what you eat — the two aren’t mutually exclusive!
Eating the Right Foods
Teen athletes are often tempted to engage in the practice of “cutting weight”. This is a dramatic form of weight loss that is not recommended as a healthy way to reach a goal or level of athletic achievement. In fact, cutting weight can lead to:
- Energy depletion
- Loss of strength
- Reduction of stamina
Additionally, some athletes will find ways to “sweat it out” (i.e. rubber suit, sauna, diuretics). These methods lead to a quick loss of “water weight”. While the loss of weight may ultimately sound appealing, losses can lead to:
- Poor performance
- Poor cognitive function
You may have heard the term “healthy fats” before, but what are they? Unsaturated fats, which have the power to boost the “good” kind of cholesterol (HDL), are considered the healthier kind of fat. They help fuel important activities in the body, such as hormone production.
It’s important to add unsaturated fats to each meal in the amount recommended. However, overeating healthy fats can become an unhealthy habit. Work with a dietitian to better understand portion size and calorie control as eating “healthy” fats without moderation can still cause weight gain.
Some great examples of healthy fats include:
- olive oil (in cooking, dressings, dips, sauces)
Be sure to eat some healthy fats every single day. Healthy fats will help you feel full and satisfied and control your blood sugar and cravings in between meals.
Learn more about fats in these related articles now:
- How Much Fat Does a Teen Need Per Day? Ask a Dietitian!
- How Many Grams of Fat Does a 13 Year Old Need Per Day?
- How Much Fat Does a 14-Year Old Need Per Day?
- How Many Grams of Fat Does a 15-Year Old Need Per Day?
The Last Word on Weight-Loss Friendly Teen Breakfasts
As cliche as it sounds, weight loss for teens is more about the journey, not the destination. Healthy breakfast choices, that are nutrient-rich and easy to grab on busy mornings, are ideal for teens looking for fuel to start the day off right. The right mindset, quality nutrient sources, and knowing what drinks to choose can all have a healthy effect on weight loss.
What Should a Teen Eat for Breakfast to Lose Weight? A teenager should eat breakfast foods that are low-in sugar and refined carbohydrates while also containing healthy carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Some great breakfast ideas for teens to lose weight include oatmeal with nuts and fruit, veggie omelettes, breakfast burritos, and protein fruit/veggie smoothies.
What is the Healthiest Breakfast for a Teenager? The healthiest breakfasts for teenagers are low in added sugar and contain complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats such as avocado toast, overnight oats, veggie omelettes, and protein smoothies.
What Should a 15 year old Eat for Breakfast? A 15 year old should learn to prepare their own breakfast by starting with easy-to-make nutritious breakfast foods such as toast and nut butter with fruit, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, smoothies, or whole wheat pancakes. Breakfasts that contain low amounts of added sugar and high amounts of nutrients are most important for a growing 15-year old.
Easy Breakfast Ideas for Teenage Girl? A teenage girl should learn to prepare simple foods for a filling, nutritious breakfast such as veggie omelettes, protein fruit smoothies, Greek yogurt parfaits, breakfast burritos, overnight oatmeal, whole wheat toast and nut butter, or breakfast sandwiches with pouched eggs, avocado, cheese, spinach, and tomatoes.
- Is it Easy to Lose Weight as a Teenager?
- What Should Teenagers Eat for Breakfast?
- Nutrition Meal Plan for Teenage Athletes
- What is the Best Diet Plan for a 15 Year-Old? Tips from a Dietitian
- Should a 13 Year Old Go on a Diet?
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