We’ve all been there—we know we should have gotten up earlier to have breakfast. But there you are, in the car on your way to work with a grumbling tummy, passing drive-thru after drive-thru promising you a hot and satisfying way to start your day. You know fast-food is not good for you, but you can’t possibly make it until lunch. But what fast-food breakfasts are the lesser of the evils, and which ones should be avoided at all costs?
Best: Perfect Oatmeal
Nothing says a warm and filling breakfast like oatmeal. A lot of fast-food places have hopped on the oatmeal bandwagon, but the Starbucks version is definitely the healthiest. With only 140 calories in a serving and less than 3 grams of fat, you can feel good about your breakfast choice. And the 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein will leave you satisfied until lunch. The topping choices are all less than 100 calories, but stick to just one or you may have too much of a good thing.
Best: Egg White, Spinach, and Feta Wrap
For a savory on-the-go breakfast, grab an egg white, spinach and feta wrap. The whole grain wrap and spinach give you a whopping 6 grams of fiber, and the eggs and feta make up 18 grams of protein—all clocking in at just 280 calories and 10 grams of fat. Not bad for a last-minute breakfast.
Worst: Raspberry Scone
So sweet, so innocent—so dangerous for your waistline. Starbucks’ website says they are made with sweet-tart raspberries and sprinkled with crystal sugar, then hand-topped with extra raspberries. Starting your day with a raspberry scone is going to set you back 500 calories and 26 grams of fat. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering the second ingredient in this popular Starbucks treat is butter. A good rule of thumb? Anything with visible sugar on top should not be eaten for breakfast.
Worst: Zucchini Walnut Muffin
This breakfast culprit may be the scariest of them all, because it is so darn sneaky. Zucchini is healthy, right? And so are walnuts. The description on Starbucks’ website even says the two ingredients are baked into a “wholesome muffin.” But this junk-food-in-disguise packs in 490 calories and 28 grams of fat—surely not worthy to be your breakfast.
Best: Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait Who says you can’t have dessert for breakfast? Although the fruit ‘n yogurt parfait is listed in the dessert section of McDonald’s website, it is a smart choice if you need a quick fix in the morning. The 7-ounce cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt with blueberries, strawberries and granola has just 160 calories, 2 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein. The bad news? You’ll also be consuming 21 grams of sugar, but considering the other choices on the market, you can let it slide. Just watch your sugar intake the rest of the day.
Best: Egg McMuffin
This next item is perhaps the most classic American fast-food breakfast. We’re talking about the iconic Egg McMuffin. It’s made up of an egg, a slice of American cheese and a piece Canadian bacon on a toasted English muffin, and because it comes in at a reasonable 300 calories, you can feel free to have one once in a while. The 18 grams of protein will also benefit you for the rest of the day. Want to take your attempt at healthy eating a step further? Lose the slice of Canadian bacon—you will save calories and sodium.
Worst: Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
Let’s face it. Ordering the biggest thing on the menu is almost never a good idea—especially in this case. Scrambled eggs, sausage, a buttermilk biscuit, hash browns and three hotcakes add up to a whopping 1150 calories and 60 grams of fat. And don’t forget about sodium—it is 94 percent of your recommended daily value for the whole day!
Worst: Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel
Saying this steak and eggs breakfast is a hearty meal would be an understatement. A bagel topped with steak, onions, egg and a “special breakfast sauce” make up this heavy-hitting choice with 660 calories and 33 grams of fat. And don’t plan on having any more cholesterol for the rest of the day, because at 300 milligrams, you have already used it up in this meal.
Best: Egg & Cheese Croissan’wich
If you have to make a breakfast pit-stop at Burger King, your decision may be more difficult than at other drive-thrus. But if you can’t go without your morning egg and cheese, the “Croissan’wich” is pretty reasonable, coming in at 320 calories and 11 grams of protein. With that said, an infrequent visit to BK for this breakfast item is probably OK.
Best: Blueberry Biscuits
Not only are these a unique fast-food breakfast item, they are one of the best choices for your waistline. Who doesn’t love mini blueberry biscuits? But there is a catch—you have to skip the icing, which is mostly sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Four of these blueberry bites are 300 calories and 15 grams of fat, which for an entire meal is practical—just don’t have them as a snack or side in addition to other fast-food.
Worst: Double Croissan’wich with bacon and sausage
This fatty choice should not come as a surprise—a sandwich with double anything is probably high in calories. This one starts with a buttery croissant, topped with egg, two slices of cheese, and a layer of both sausage and bacon. With 700 calories and 49 grams of fat, you should probably steer clear of the Double Croissan’wich.
Worst: Hash Browns
Hash browns at any fast-food restaurant are more than likely to be high in fat and calories, but the worst thing about these greasy little treats is that most people order them in addition to an already fatty breakfast sandwich. Even a small size of hash browns at Burger King will add 250 calories and 16 grams of fat to a meal. It’s essentially the nutritional equivalent of having French fries with your breakfast.
Best: Egg White Veggie Flatbread & Egg White Turkey Sausage Wake-Up Wrap
Dunkin Donuts has definitely made a great effort to offer healthy options on their menu. Both the Egg White Veggie Flatbread, with 280 calories and 10 grams of fat and the Egg White Turkey Sausage Wake-Up Wrap with just 150 calories and 5 grams of fat will get rid of your hunger and won’t leave you feeling guilty about it.
Worst: Sausage, Egg & Cheese on Croissant
What sounds like your basic breakfast sandwich could leave you with some seriously tight pants if you eat it too often. With 690 calories and 48 grams of fat, you might be better off having a hamburger for breakfast.
Worst: Any donut
You’re mother was right—you shouldn’t eat cake for breakfast, even if it is in the shape of a donut. No matter how you slice them, donuts should be avoided as a breakfast food. The donut choices at Dunkin Donuts range from 200-550 calories and are loaded with sugar. If you feel like you absolutely can’t live without something sweet while going through the drive-thru, grab a couple Munchkins to satisfy your craving.