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Fast Food Breakfast: 8 Healthiest Options in 2024

Christie Borders, MS, CNS

Published in Nutrition

8 min read

February 13, 2024
people eating breakfast
people eating breakfast

While breakfast is often touted as the most important meal of the day, the reality is that many people find themselves in a morning rush, unable to prepare a nutritious, balanced meal. 

This time constraint may lead you to opt for a quick drive-thru breakfast combo from fast food restaurants like Dunkin Donuts, Jack in the Box, or Wendy’s—which may not always be the most ideal choice for optimal health and nutrition. Unfortunately, fast food breakfasts often contain high levels of sodium, refined sugars, saturated fats, and lack essential nutrients. 

However, since busy mornings are a common reality, it’s important to be aware of healthier options if you find yourself in a pickle. By making informed choices and prioritizing options that are higher in protein and fiber, you can mitigate some of the potential downsides associated with fast food breakfasts.

Let's take a look at some of the best fast-food breakfast options in 2024, according to Nutrisense nutrition experts.

1) Starbucks Turkey Bacon, Cheddar & Egg White Sandwich

  • Calories: 230
  • Total Carbs: 28 grams
  • Total Fat: 5 grams
  • Protein: 17 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 2 grams
  • Sodium: 560 milligrams
Starbucks Turkey Bacon, Cheddar & Egg White Sandwich

Coming in at only 230 calories and 17 grams of protein, the Starbucks Turkey Bacon, Cheddar & Egg White Sandwich is a nutrient-dense, delicious sandwich that makes for a convenient on-the-go breakfast. Made with a whole wheat English muffin and reduced-fat cheddar cheese, this biscuit sandwich surpasses similar options at other fast food locations.

Plus, our nutritionists note that "although this sandwich is higher in sodium, it does have less sodium than other breakfast sandwiches on the Starbucks menu."

2) McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin with Egg

  • Calories: 480
  • Total Carbs: 30 grams
  • Total Fat: 31 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 2 grams
  • Sodium: 572 milligrams

The Sausage McMuffin with Egg is a McDonald's breakfast staple and surprisingly healthier than other menu options. Essentially an egg sandwich with a sausage patty, this meal from McD’s is packed with 20 grams of protein

Although the sodium content is a bit high, this is a decent fast food breakfast sandwich option if you're in a hurry and need a quick boost of energy in the morning.

Our nutritionists also suggest, "if you want to make this sandwich even healthier by cutting out some saturated fat and sodium, ask for your Egg McMuffin with no cheese!"

3) Starbucks Egg White & Roasted Bell Pepper Sous Vide Egg Bites

  • Calories: 170
  • Total Carbs: 11 grams
  • Total Fat: 8 grams
  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 3 grams
  • Sodium: 470 milligrams

With only 170 calories per serving and 12 grams of protein, the Egg White & Roasted Red Pepper Egg Bites from Starbucks is a healthy, nutrient-dense menu item and a great option for anyone following a low-carb or high-protein diet.

To make this breakfast a complete, filling meal, our nutritionists also recommend "adding some avocado on the side to ensure maximum satiety and an extra boost of fiber."

4) Jamba Juice Steel Cut Oatmeal

  • Calories: 170
  • Total Carbs: 31 grams
  • Total Fat: 2.5 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 5 grams
  • Sodium: 20 milligrams

The Jamba Juice steel cut oatmeal is a healthy and nutritious breakfast option if you don’t enjoy savory flavors in the morning. With toppings like bananas, blueberries, strawberries, granola, and coconut flakes, this oatmeal bowl can be easily customized to meet your taste preferences.

Our nutritionists add that "oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfasts for improving health, as studies show it has positive impacts on reducing cholesterol and moderating blood sugar levels.”

5) Sonic: Jr. Sausage, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

  • Calories: 280
  • Total Carbs: 22 grams
  • Total Fat: 16 grams
  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 910 milligrams
Sonic: Jr. Sausage, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

The Sonic Jr. Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Burrito comes in at only 280 calories with 12 grams of protein. When going to Sonic, our nutritionists recommend "going for one of their ‘junior’ breakfast items on the menu to cut down on excess saturated fat and sodium. Asking for no cheese may be a suitable option too—plus, adding some tomatoes or jalapeno can be a great way to add more flavor without adding lots of extra calories.”

6) Chick-Fil-A Egg White Grill

  • Calories: 300
  • Total Carbs: 31 grams
  • Total Fat: 8 grams
  • Protein: 28 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 2 grams
  • Sodium: 980 milligrams
Chick-Fil-A Egg White Grill

While Chick-Fil-A is known for its chicken sandwiches, they have breakfast options as well! With a whopping 28 grams of protein per serving, the Chick-Fil-A Egg White Grill is a nutritious and satiating breakfast that can keep you full for hours.

Our nutritionists note that "the sodium content is a bit higher than we'd like to see, so we recommend taking out the American cheese.”

7) Panera Avocado, Egg White, And Spinach Sandwich

  • Calories: 340
  • Total Carbs: 36 grams
  • Total Fat: 14 grams
  • Protein: 19 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Sugar: 3 grams
  • Sodium: 680 milligrams
Panera Avocado, Egg White, And Spinach Sandwich

Our nutritionists love that "Panera's Avocado, Egg White, And Spinach Sandwich is packed with 19 grams of protein and 6 grams of dietary fiber, making it a nutritious and satiating breakfast option on-the-go. The creamy avocado adds some extra healthy fats, rounding this out to be quite a balanced breakfast sandwich."

8) Taco Bell Cheesy Toasted Breakfast Burrito Sausage

  • Calories: 350
  • Total Carbs: 38 grams
  • Total Fat: 17 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 3 grams
  • Sodium: 770 milligrams

"Taco Bell Cheesy Toasted Breakfast Burritos are one of the healthier tortilla-wrapped options on their breakfast menu, with the sausage option offering the most protein and nutritional content."

Our nutritionists add, "although we wouldn't recommend eating these every day due to the high fat content, they're a great option for when you need something convenient and somewhat nutritious. If you want to make this even more healthy, skip out on any cheese dips or sour cream and grab a few salsa packets instead."

What Makes a Breakfast Healthy?

A healthy fast food breakfast option is one that best aligns with your individual health goals and dietary needs, recognizing that the definition of "healthy" can vary greatly based on factors such as weight loss, muscle building, blood sugar, and specific diets like keto. Despite these differences, several key factors contribute to the overall health and nutrition of fast food breakfast choices including:

  • High in protein: A breakfast rich in protein can help promote satiety, reduce cravings, and support muscle growth.
  • High in fiber: Fiber is essential for digestive health and helps contribute to steady energy levels.
  • Low impact on blood sugar: Foods that have a lower glycemic index, meaning they don't cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, can help avoid energy crashes throughout the day.

Should You Eat Fast Food in the Morning?

fast food restaurant
Source: Pexels

It's crucial to remember that while fast food might be a convenient option, making it a regular pattern for breakfast may negatively impact long-term health. Whenever possible, it's advisable to avoid fast food in the morning as a regular breakfast choice. 

However, we recognize that convenience is a reality for many people, so here are some guidelines to keep in mind when choosing a fast food breakfast:

  • Plan ahead: Research in advance and look for items that are higher in protein, lower in saturated fat, and include mostly whole ingredients.
  • Check nutritional information: Most fast food chains provide nutritional information for their menu options online, so take a moment to review the information.
  • Customize your order: You may want to request egg whites instead of whole eggs or ask for no cheese.
  • Portion control: Be mindful of portion sizes, as fast food servings are often larger than necessary for a single meal.
  • Hydrate: Pair your breakfast with water or sugar-free beverage to stay hydrated.

What Fast Food Is Good In the Morning?

When looking for fast food breakfast options, our recommendation is to aim for options that are relatively low in carbs, high in protein and/or fiber, and low in sugar. For blood sugar friendly options, consider avoiding foods like sugary waffles, hash browns, or plain buttery croissants or bagels.

Instead, opt for items such as:

  • Egg-based options: Scrambled egg and cheese biscuits, breakfast sandwiches, or omelets are often packed with protein and often customizable.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is known for being rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Avoid adding sweeteners and instead pair it with a source of protein to keep you full for longer!
  • Turkey sausage: Rather than choosing a crispy bacon-based breakfast, turkey sausage can provide a leaner protein source.
  • Avocado: Menu options with avocado are great for adding healthy fats to your morning meal.

While America’s favorite fast food items like the “breakfast crunchwrap” or “breakfast baconator” may not be the ideal breakfast choice, the options we’ve included in this article can help you make healthier decisions when on the go.

Always remember to check the nutritional information, customize your order, and make mindful choices that best align with your personal health needs and goals.

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Victoria Eaton, RDN, LDN, IFNCP

Reviewed by: Victoria Eaton, RDN, LDN, IFNCP

Victoria began her career in the functional medicine space in 2015. She has extensive experience interpreting labs and supporting weight loss, gut imbalances, and chronic migraines. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and dietetics from Missouri State University.