Healthy Savory Breakfast Benefits and What to Eat

Healthy Savory Breakfast Benefits and What to Eat

Salty breakfast. Introduction

Breakfast is the meal that guarantees us the nutritional balance of the day. The habits of Italians at breakfast in recent years are changing. First of all, what changes is the place where to have breakfast: from a 2018 Nielsen research it appears that the number of Italians who have breakfast “on the go” is growing: on the way from home to work or breakfast at the bar or once they arrive in office. What changes is not only the place where breakfast is eaten, but also the type of food eaten. Italians love a sweet breakfast , even if there is 1-2% who prefer a savory breakfast . A healthy, balanced and complete breakfast must provide us with all thenutrients we need after the long overnight fast, in the right percentage and of high quality. An adequate breakfast must ensure an energy intake between 15 and 25% of the daily energy . It must also give a sense of satiety such as to avoid between meals and keep blood sugar under control. A savory breakfast can be defined as healthy if it respects these parameters.

Sweet breakfast or savory breakfast, pros and cons

If you think of the typical Italian breakfast, the first thing that comes to mind is cappuccino and croissant for bar lovers or, for those who opt for breakfast at home, milk and biscuits or milk and rusks with jam .

Composed as follows, the sweet breakfast can be unbalanced towards carbohydrates or towards fats:

  • Too many carbohydrates induce a postprandial glycemic peak resulting in a hypoglycemic drop and a feeling of hunger after a few hours. (1)
  • the habitual consumption of a breakfast with a high glycemic index determines, primarily due to the effects on blood sugar and on the stimulation of insulin secretion, a greater risk of metabolic syndrome .
  • If it is rich in lipids (40% of calories ) in subjects of normal weight , it causes a worsening of the postprandial inflammatory state. (2)

Should we give up our habits or can we simply improve the type of foods?

Well balanced sweet breakfast. Benefits

A sweet breakfast if well balanced has its positive sides:

  • rich in complex carbohydrates , a low lipid load (3) and a good fiber intake (4) is favorable for maintaining a normal body weight in the adult population
  • overall the sweet breakfast brings less sodium than the savory one
  • consuming a low-fat, high-fiber breakfast for 3 months reduces levels of markers of visceral adiposity and inflammation (5)
  • it contributes over 20% of the total calcium intake for the day (6).
  • Furthermore, a study has highlighted how a breakfast characterized by large portions of whole grains leads to an improvement in cognitive performance in a population of American students (7)
  • the consumption of milk and cereals for breakfast , often fortified , tends to improve the intake of Ca, Mg and Fe and vitamins B1 , B2, B3, B12 and folate while decreasing the daily intake of total fats (8)


Salty breakfast. pros and cons

If, on the other hand, we think of a savory breakfast such as the Anglo-Saxon one based on eggs , bacon and pancetta : 

  • breakfast becomes a concentrate of unhealthy fats
  • and elevated sodium concentrations with adverse cardiovascular effects

If we examine instead, the effects on satiety, protein -rich breakfasts (20 and 30 g, coming essentially from eggs and bread ) compared to breakfasts with a lower protein content (10 and 15 g from cereals and dairy products ) determine

  • a greater feeling of satiety during the day.
  • lower calorie consumption at lunch
  • even in children, an egg-based breakfast significantly reduces caloric intake at lunchtime (but not throughout the day) compared to a cereal or oatmeal breakfast (9)
  • avoid sudden glycemic and insulin rises after breakfast, so the protein breakfast is recommended for people who have high fasting glycemia

Healthy savory breakfast

But what criteria must the concept of a healthy savory breakfast meet?

  • foods with low glycemic index carbohydrates and rich in fiber for all age groups of the population without a specific recommendation on quantity. So, the choice can fall on whole grain bread or cereals with no added sugar .
  • The choice of protein food sources is important: foods that provide critical micronutrients for the Italian population (e.g. calcium and vitamin D ) and do not bring too much cholesterol and too much sodium are preferred. Protein foods must be able to maximize the health benefits and not be harmful: the variety in the choice of protein means that one avoids eating too much cheese or too many cured meats, remembering that the European code against cancer of the IARC suggests to avoid preserved meat as one of the twelve daily anti-cancer actions.

To be complete, breakfast must contain a fruit for fiber and vitamins and a drink : water, tea, or herbal tea to hydrate us.

Savory breakfast in the low-calorie diet

A savory breakfast can be an excellent strategy for those who follow a low-calorie diet for weight maintenance, provided it is well balanced. When we have a savory breakfast, in which we insert eggs, cheese, ham , salmon , oilseeds it could be unbalanced. It is therefore necessary to evaluate two aspects: how many times in a week eggs and processed meats are introduced and what to eat in the rest of the day in order not to exceed in animal proteins , saturated fats and sodium, potentially harmful to health and for maintaining a healthy weight. This is because if on the one hand the lack of a nutrient is harmful, its excess is equally harmful. If we respect these parameters, the savory breakfast will be healthy, nutritious and easily digestible as a whole .

Example of savory breakfast in the diet

complete and well-balanced typical breakfast can be as follows:

  • Herbal tea to hydrate the body after a long night’s rest
  • protein pancake made with egg whites and wholemeal flour , with high biological value proteins and low GI carbohydrates, low in sodium
  • avocado cream a precious set of micronutrients : rich in fiber, omega 3 fats , excellent levels of vitamins A , E, K and B vitamins

Savory sportsman’s breakfast

The diet of subjects who practice sports must be programmed on the basis of these elements:

  • body composition
  • specific energy needs resulting from the type of sport of long, short or intense duration
  • according to the frequency, the training times
  • if it is an aerobic sport , alternating aerobic-anaerobic and anaerobic.

Athletes must pay attention to their diet right from breakfast.

The salty breakfast in “anaerobic” sports , characterized by the production of lactic acid , can be made up of bread, cheese and pine nuts or almonds to have a significant energy intake, with slow release of sugars, mediated by unsaturated lipids and the muscle relaxant action of almonds.

For athletes who practice endurance and/or power sports, eggs can be used as a protein portion of breakfast (raw, soft- boiled , hard-boiled, scrambled, etc.). If the egg is not welcome or must be excluded due to its allergenic power, raw ham or bresaola or turkey breast can be used .

A fruit salad can not be missing to replenish the loss of fluids and mineral salts and in the case of a morning workout you can choose fruit or vegetable smoothies , with a banana .

Savory breakfast of a pregnant woman

The scientific community agrees in considering breakfast the most important meal of the day, because the nutritional balance throughout the 24 hours depends on it. This is even more true for a pregnant woman’s breakfast, for which it is also the time to acquire important trace elements . A nutritionally adequate breakfast must take into account the increased energy requirement due to an increase in the basal metabolic rate and the increased synthesis of proteins necessary to build new tissues. It must satisfy the increased need for vitamins and mineral salts : folic acid , iron , iodine, soccer. Furthermore, it must provide an adequate balance between macronutrients and pay attention to the glycemic load , which is important for preventing the mother’s obesity and the consequences connected to it ( gestosis , gestational diabetes ) and for the well-being of the future newborn.

Examples of a healthy savory breakfast during pregnancy. Breakfast 1

  • 1 cup of Yannoh , or better known as chicory coffee , which helps reduce stomach acidity , useful for promoting digestion , relieving constipation and rich in vitamins C, PP , K and mineral salts.
  • 1 glass of oat milk to start the day with the right hydration and replenish protein, folic acid, vitamin B9 , calcium, iron and essential fatty acids , such as linoleic acid
  • wholemeal or rye bread or toasted cereals as a source of carbohydrates
  • a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or with olive patè to modulate the absorption of sugars and fats, for the transport of fat-soluble vitamins and for their antioxidant vitamin E content .

Savory breakfast during pregnancy, second example

  • 1 cup of barley coffee , rich in fiber and mineral salts such as potassium and magnesium , contains vitamins B and E
  • naturally gluten -free buckwheat biscuits , they give a surplus of energy with a low glycemic index, so they are also suitable for diabetic women . Rich in precious minerals and vitamins, they are also a source of essential amino acids .
  • a well-cooked egg or ricotta protein with a notable energy boost and immediate bioavailability
  • kiwi for a supply of protective and antioxidant vitamin C


Breakfast is no longer what it was a few years ago, because it is changing on the wave of new food trends, and the desire to experiment with new foods continues to grow. Italians are more attentive to what they buy and what they bring to the table. Wholemeal and light products also appear in bars . Spending on free-from and fortified foods, lactose -free or gluten-free foods is growing , and, above all, the preference for organic products is increasing. You can opt for a sweet or savory breakfast, the important thing is that it is well balancedin terms of quality and quantity. Thus, breakfast is able to provide the right energy and the amount of nutrients essential to tackle everyday activities and preserve tomorrow’s health.



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