For a lot of kids, there’s nothing better than a big bowl of Lucky Charms to start the day. Even as grown-ups, many of us reach for muffins, waffles and doughnuts for our first meal of the day, but as tasty as those are, they’re heavy on the carbs and low on protein, so they’re not the best option, nutritionally speaking. But a better choice might be waiting in the fridge in the form of last night’s dinner.
Leftovers can actually be a healthy option for breakfast, depending on what you had. If it’s a balanced meal made up of protein, healthy fat, complex carbs and veggies, then it doesn’t matter when you eat it. Registered dietitian Jessica Bippen explains, “A savory dish can be a really great way to balance your blood sugar and really give you the energy you need to start your day.”
Some other benefits of eating leftovers for breakfast include:
- Savory dishes keep people fuller longer, which makes them less likely to graze on snacks, according to dietitian Kim Rose.
- The sugar in a lot of common breakfast foods not only contributes to weight gain, it also creates a vicious cycle of cravings and is a risk factor for age-related cognitive decline.
- Tara Allen, a registered nurse and health coach, says eating leftovers may give you a more balanced meal with enough protein, vegetables, healthy fats and carbs.
- You can repurpose your leftovers into something that appeals to you in the morning, so you get a nutritious meal and your leftovers don’t go to waste.
- If you like things spicy, Rose says eating spicy foods in the morning may help curb salt cravings, which helps with high blood pressure.
- Nothing is off limits, but try to avoid greasy, fried foods, which aren’t nutrient-dense, just calorie-dense.