By Chelsea Morrow
Pancakes, waffles, French toast, oh my! These classic dishes are extremely delicious and comforting, but should they really be considered breakfast foods? Unfortunately, no! Considering they contain lots of sugar and processed carbs and little protein, you might as well indulge in dessert for breakfast.
What you eat for breakfast sets the tone for the food choices you make for your entire day. Consuming sugar and processed carbs causes an excessive spike in your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels are heightened, high levels of insulin are released into your bloodstream, working to bring your blood sugar back into balance. When this occurs, you switch from burning fat to storing fat, resulting in the processed carbs you consumed being stored as excess body fat rather than utilized as fuel.
When insulin works overtime to balance your blood sugar levels, it unintentionally removes too much sugar from your bloodstream, leading you to experience low blood sugar, also known as a sugar crash. Your sugar crash tricks your brain into falsely believing you’re still hungry and need more carbs to satisfy you. You then indulge in more carbs, the process is repeated and a vicious cycle begins. So when you consume those heavenly cinnamon rolls for breakfast, you are setting yourself up for a blood sugar roller coaster of a day.
All carbohydrates are broken down into sugar and secreted into the bloodstream. When eaten with protein and fat, sugar is released more slowly, preventing you from experiencing those sugar highs and lows.
Our advice: Start your day with a balanced breakfast composed of carbs, fats and protein that nourish and fuel you properly. Not only will you stabilize your blood sugar, enjoy greater amounts of energy and minimize food cravings, but you will also encourage yourself to continue making healthier food choices throughout your day.
Now you know the facts about what those “dessert” breakfast foods are doing to your body. But what if you love eating them too much to push them aside? We’ve got good news! It’s possible to say “no” to riding the sugar roller coaster without depriving yourself of your favorite comforting breakfast foods.
With the five low-carb recipes below, you can indulge in fresh-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls, warm, fluffy pancakes and more. These recipes contain mostly whole foods, have little added sugar, are high in protein and are simple to prepare! Try these low-carb breakfast recipes and set yourself up for a successful day!
Egg White Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon rolls no longer have to be a guilty pleasure, thanks to this flourless breakfast inspired by Snapguide. The low-carb breakfast recipe swaps the flour for egg whites to make light and fluffy cinnamon rolls that won’t weigh you down. Processed carbs aren’t just found in flour, though—to ensure this dish remains low in carbs, double-check that sugar hasn’t snuck its way into your protein powder, plant-based milk or Greek yogurt.
Ingredients (makes 3 cinnamon rolls):
- 1 egg
- 3 egg whites
- 1½ scoops Iced Cinnamon Afterburn protein powder or vanilla protein powder of choice
- 2 tbsp. cinnamon
- ¼ cup plant-based milk
- 1 tbsp. almond butter
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- In a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine egg, egg whites, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 tbsp. cinnamon and plant-based milk.
- Pour the mixture into a sprayed, oiled or non-stick pan. Allow to cook on low heat and covered for approximately 10 minutes or until cooked all the way through, similar to a pancake.
- Allow to cool and then cut into three strips.
- While waiting for the dough to cool, make the icing by stirring together ½ scoop protein powder, 1 tbsp. cinnamon, almond butter and Greek yogurt.
- Spread icing on each piece and roll up. Drizzle extra icing on top.
1 cinnamon roll:
Calories: 200 | Carbs: 10g | Fat: 5g | Protein: 23g
When we opened our lunch box as kids, there was often a yummy PB&J waiting for us to devour. This sandwich was normally made from mouth watering yet sugar-filled white bread, peanut butter and jelly—ingredients that definitely don’t help us reach our health and fitness goals. Try this low-carb PB&J Parfait and get a sweet, nutritious taste of your childhood in the morning!
- 4 tbsp. peanut butter powder
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ½ cup blueberries
- ½ brown rice cake
- Combine peanut butter powder and Greek yogurt. Stir until smooth.
- Cut banana into thin slices.
- Crush rice cake into small pieces.
- Layer Greek yogurt mixture, rice cake pieces and banana slices in a mason Jar. Begin with ½ of the Greek yogurt mixture, then ½ of the rice cake pieces, then ½ of the blueberries. Repeat.
Makes 1 serving:
Calories: 292 | Carbs: 33g | Fat: 3g | Protein: 35g
Fluffy Protein Pancakes
There is nothing better on a lazy Sunday morning than a plate of fresh, fluffy pancakes drizzled with maple syrup. But when we hit the gym on Monday, we often regret that indulgent choice. Stop living in regret by whipping up this satisfying low-carb breakfast recipe! When these Fluffy Protein Pancakes are covered in a delicious Maple Coconut Butter Glaze, you won’t believe you are fueling yourself with nourishing whole foods.
- 3 tbsp. coconut flour
- Pinch of sea salt
- ¼ tsp. baking powder
- 3 egg whites
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ to- ½ cup plant-based milk
Maple Coconut Butter Glaze:
- 1 tbsp. coconut butter
- 2 tbsp. plant-based milk
- ½ tsp. maple extract
- In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut flour, stevia, sea salt and baking powder. Mix well.
- In a small bowl, whisk egg whites with vanilla extract. Add to the dry mixture, along with the unsweetened applesauce.
- Add plant-based milk a tablespoon at a time until a thick batter is formed (you may need more than ¼½ cup). Mix lightly; do not overmix.
- Heat a sprayed, oiled or non-stick pan on low/medium. Pour batter ¼ cup at a time. Cook pancakes for 2 to 3 minutes or until edges brown. Flip and cook for an extra minute or until cooked through. Repeat until all pancakes are cooked. Covering pan while cooking is recommended.
- Make the Maple Coconut Butter Glaze by whisking all ingredients in a small bowl, then drizzle over pancakes.
Makes 1 serving:
Calories: 389 | Carbs: 22g | Fat: 16g | Protein: 15g
Sweet Potato Avocado Toast
Avocado toast is gaining attention as a go-to healthy breakfast option and popping up on restaurant menus across the nation. But is it really that healthy? The carbohydrate content in two slices of bread, especially those thick slices restaurants always serve, can add up quickly. Even if you opt for gluten-free, whole-wheat, rye or multigrain bread, consuming too many carbs in one meal will leave you feeling lethargic and hungry soon after. While all the ingredients are whole foods, it’s too much of a good thing. Check out this creative Sweet Potato Avocado Toast low-carb breakfast recipe and avoid eating in excess!
- 2 slices large sweet potato, cut lengthwise and ¼-inch thick
- ½ cup avocado
- ½ lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 eggs cooked over-easy
- 2 tbsp. freshly chopped cilantro
- Optional toppings: sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, arugula
- Place the sweet potato slices in a toaster on high for about 5 minutes or until cooked through. You may need to toast them multiple times depending on your toaster settings.
- In a bowl, mash avocado, squeeze lemon and sprinkle salt and pepper over top. Slightly stir together and then spread on toasted sweet potato slices. Top with eggs, cilantro and any other additional toppings of choice.
Makes 1 serving:
Calories: 348 | Carbs: 26g | Fat: 20g | Protein: 16g
Cheesy Cheeseless Omelette
You might be thinking, “What’s so bad about omelets? They’re packed with both protein and vegetables, right?” Let’s look a little deeper into this “healthy” breakfast choice. If your omelet is made with three eggs and a half cup of cheddar cheese, you’ll be consuming a large majority of your daily fat intake in only one meal. Additionally, roughly 80% of the world population is unable to digest dairy properly (Dr. Mark Hyman, MD), causing inflammation, bloating and weight gain. Thanks to this Cheesy Cheeseless Omelette low-carb breakfast recipe, we are able to still enjoy our melty, gooey omelets, without overindulging in carbs, fat or dairy.
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup chopped bell peppers
- 1 handful arugula
- ¼ cup cashews
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. tapioca starch (tapioca flour)
- 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ tsp. paprika
- ¼ tsp. onion powder
- ¼ tsp. turmeric
- ¼ tsp. pink Himalayan salt
- Begin making the “cheese” by soaking the cashews for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Bring 1 cup of water to boil and pour into a high-speed blender or food processor along with all other ingredients. Process until completely smooth.
- Transfer mix to a small pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and stir continuously until a melty cheese consistency is reached, approximately 5 minutes.
- After the cheese is cooked, begin making the omelet. Pour egg whites into a heated, non-stick skillet and top with peppers (and any other vegetables of choice). Allow eggs to cook. Once cooked halfway through, add half of the “cheese” on top and allow the omelet to finish cooking. Fold in half and top with arugula.
- Refrigerate the remaining “cheese” in an airtight container.
Calories: 343 | Carbs: 24g | Fat: 17g | Protein: 24g
If you love our low-carb breakfast recipes, be sure to check out our favorite high-protein dessert recipes and quick and easy vegan meals.
Chelsea Morrow is a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor. After a six-year career as a professional figure skater, she now works at Burn Boot Camp HQ on the Marketing team and is passionate about educating all of Burn Nation about fitness, nutrition, and a positive mindset. Chelsea is also the author and mastermind behind The Blueprint, Burn Boot Camp’s weekly newsletter. She loves doing yoga, meditating, rock climbing, her dog Yogi, and eating Mexican food.