Breakfast refuels the body after a night's rest, providing nutrients that get a person off on the right nutritional foot. Some traditional breakfasts tend to focus heavily on carbohydrates, which provide quick energy to jump-start the day. However, people seeking a balanced meal without the extra carbs have many healthy options. For optimal health, choose low-carb protein, dairy and plant-based sources of energy for breakfast and throughout the day.
Taking traditional high-carb breakfast foods off the menu brings a few immediate benefits. Avoiding empty calories and high-sugar content in foods such as pancakes, waffles, muffins, pastries and bagels will help reduce cravings for carbohydrates. It will also prevent energy crashes and hunger cravings that occur as a result of spikes and drops in blood sugar levels.
Complex carbohydrates provide needed fuel for the body. If you are cutting carbs in your dietary regimen, you will need to find other options. Some high-carb breakfast foods such as whole-grain bread, cereals, grits and oatmeal are sources of dietary fiber that help contribute to a feeling of fullness, provide long-term energy and help avoid overeating. When cutting back on carbohydrates, consider making a gradual transition by choosing reduced-carb products and reading manufacturer labels.
Breakfasts with sources of protein such as eggs, egg whites or egg substitutes will keep hunger at bay and help avoid dips in blood sugar that can produce cravings for carbohydrates. Add a lean meat source such as Canadian bacon, turkey bacon or a low-carb vegetarian meat product as a side dish. For flavor, add onions, cheese or scallions to create a low-carb omelet. Asparagus, tomatoes, broccoli and avocados are among the vegetables and fruits with the lowest carbs. If you are watching your cholesterol, consult your doctor for recommendations on optimal protein intake.
For a fresh, low-carb breakfast without using the stove, try combinations of plain yogurt and berries. One cup of yogurt with 1/2 cup of strawberries contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates, according to the Diabetes Daily website. Cottage cheese, another low-carb food, combines well with fruit such as cantaloupe and apricots, which are relatively low in carbs compared with other fruit. Create a low-carb version of bagels and lox by spreading cream cheese on an open-faced, low-carb bagel and topping with slices of salmon. Decaf coffee and tea are both low-carbohydrate breakfast beverages.
When using a low-carb eating plan, some researchers recommend choosing plant-based options rather than fat and protein from animals. “Research indicates that all low-carb diets are not the same and the differences have an indelible impact,” Simmons College nutrition professor Teresa Fung said in a study published in the September 2010 "Annals of Internal Medicine," adding that a diet "based on plant foods is a better choice than one that is based on animal foods.” The study of 85,000 women over 26 years found an increased risk of cancer from eating low-carb, animal-based diets.